Squish Ants on Your iPhone in Ant Smasher

Price: $0.99     Score: 10/10     By M. Schustermanbadge appstore sm Squish Ants on Your iPhone in Ant Smasher

Here, truly, is an app game for the eight year old boy in all of us.

Ant Smasher, designed by Best, Cool & Fun Games, is exactly as the name indicates – a game in which you smash ants. Simple concepts like this are usually either really well-executed or just plain boring.

In this case? It works. First, the graphics are great. Tap play and you find yourself staring at a wooden picnic table top, food lining the bottom. (If you’re feeling vindictive, swap the table for a picture of someone’s face from your photo album.)

As the ants scurry down from the top of the screen, you’ve got to squish them with your finger before they can reach the food. The attention to detail is impressive – the ants are all different shapes and sizes, and they move at different speeds as well.

Tapping them produces a nasty squishing sound effect, along with a disgusting yellow or orange ooze of guts on the table. And as an extra challenge, you’ll occasionally get a bee – tap one of those and it’s game over. (Some sneaky ants attempt to hide under the bee, making it all the trickier!)

If too many ants get to your food, that’s the end of the game. You might also be able to snag a green mushroom or two for extra lives. (You lose a life when an ant makes it to the food.) The more ants you squish, the higher your score – simple, gross, fun. At $0.99, this is one of those painfully addictive games.

Ant Smasher [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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Track Product Recalls on Your iPhone with All Recalls

Price: FREE    Score: 9/10     By M. Schustermanbadge appstore sm Track Product Recalls on Your iPhone with All Recalls

From dangerous toys to bacteria-infested food, there’s a lot to keep up with in terms of recalls. While the information is available on the Internet, having an app that tracks recalls specifically isn’t a bad idea at all. Enter All Recalls.

Designed by Urban Apps, All Recalls is straightforward and easy to use. You’ll open the app to see a list of all recalls – choose a category by scrolling the headings at the top to select from food, drugs, vehicles and more. You can also type a keyword or product name into the search field to find it quickly.

Once you select a product that’s been recalled, you get a full description of the reason for recall, a list of affected products, other recalls from that company, photos of the product, and all of the dates and numbers. There’s also a URL at the bottom, although tapping it does not lead to the address opening in Safari, nor can you copy and paste the URL. One of those options would be a nice feature. You can, however, tap the email icon at the bottom of the page to send thatinformation along.

All Recalls is free, but you can upgrade in-app to the Pro version for $0.99 (which gets rid of the ad banner running across the top). In the free version, you can recall data, email, and share info on Facebook and Twitter. The Pro versions includes a Realtime Alert setting for up-to-the-minute details on the latest recalls, as well as “search the recall database.”

My only problem: I experienced trouble with the search field initially. Any letter I typed produced the “No Results” message – it wasn’t until the comment below that I realized three letters must be entered, and the first few times I tried it loading took about ten seconds. After that I had no problems.

The bottom line: I can’t complain about a free app that helps me stay on top of recalls, and All Recalls does do that well.

All Recalls [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 3.1.3 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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Firm Up Your Butt with the Bootytastic App

Price: $1.99     Score: 8/10     By M. Schustermanbadge appstore sm Firm Up Your Butt with the Bootytastic App

Apps with high-quality video and clear instructions are really giving workout DVDs a run for their money, particularly since they’re a fraction of the cost. Bootytastic, designed by 2Dogs, brings you instruction on exercises for shaping your butt, featuring video demonstrations from Ms. Fitness World Finals runner up Alex Navarro.

The app is clear and straightforward; you’ve got a menu with 20 exercises to choose from, including lunges, lifts, kicks and squats. When you select an exercise, you are given the target muscles, some key points (such as whether or not weights or other items are needed), and written step-by-step instructions.

Tap the video to watch the exercise being performed while a voice-over explains the exercise and provides tips. Bootytastic is no-nonsense; both video and instruction move quickly, and are more for watching prior to attempting the exercise then for working out along with the videos.

The only thing I missed was an explanation of how many reps and sets of each of these exercises should be done. While I know those numbers vary based on the user’s fitness level, a suggestion or general range is necessary for the novice, and could easily be included either below the written instructions or in the voice-over.

However, the instruction is great otherwise, and the video is useful and high-quality, giving you several different angles to study the move from. For two dollars, a pretty good deal for getting the butt you want.

Note: Bootytastic from 2Dogs is also available for iPad.

Bootytastic [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 3.1.3 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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Tower Assault iPhone Game: Turn Your Zombie Pirates Loose

Price: $2.99     Score: 8/10     By M. Schustermanbadge appstore sm Tower Assault iPhone Game: Turn Your Zombie Pirates Loose

I appreciate games that put a twist on classic gameplay, and Tower Assault!: Curse of Zombie Island does exactly that – rather than tower-defense, you’re on tower-offense. This idea, combined with strong graphics and an interesting premise, are the best features of the game.

Designed by the aptly named Rogue Pirate Ninja Interactive, Tower Assault puts you in charge of a pirate crew with a ton of loot – loot that is stolen by a witch doctor, who also turns your mates into brain-eating zombies. Absolutely a unique and exciting storyline to start off the game!

Your mission: Venture back into the island, moving around the map from level to level to complete various missions with the overall goal of defeating the witch doctor and reclaiming your treasure. In other words, you’re in charge of the zombies, and you’re the one attacking, not vice-versa.

The primary way you control your zombies is with a cannon, which is usually on the far left of the screen. By swiping your finger across the screen, you produce a trajectory to launch a brain, thereby herding your zombies around the level. While this is very cool, the problem is that the zombies are…zombies. Mindless. They ramble and they’re slow, so sometimes getting them to do what you want is somewhat of a pain.

That being said, raiding villages, destroying towers and turning villagers into zombies to join your horde is pretty fun. While there is a handy tutorial to instruct you each step of the way, at times the goal of a level is sort of obscure. I also found that changing the skill level up from beginner made a huge difference – there are a few levels in beginner mode where nothing much seems to be happening, so I’d recommend just jumping in as intermediate or higher.

The occasional cumbersome feel aside, this is definitely a fun game – and long-lasting at forty levels, each with new challenges and surprises. Definitely a unique one to check out.

Tower Assault! Curse of Zombie Island [iTunes link] requires iPhone OS 3.1.2 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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Play Wonderful, Worldly Games with 225 Kid Outdoor Games

Price: $0.99     Score: 8/10     By A. Papachristosbadge appstore sm Play Wonderful, Worldly Games with 225 Kid Outdoor Games

As children, much of learning came from playing games.  In fact, it has been said that children tend to learn better when their lessons are as jam-packed with fun as they are with information.  Even as we get older, we realize that making things fun makes the learning process much easier and more enjoyable.  With 225 Kid Outdoor Games by Paidotribo, teachers, parents and babysitters everywhere can occupy their children (ages 2-16) with entertaining, educational games from around the globe.

Spanning a wide range of ages, 225 Kid Outdoor Games also spans the world, with games from 83 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania and South America.  In fact, when you begin, the main page (also the All Games page) provides a map menu.  Simply tap on whichever continent or region you find interesting to peruse their various countries and available games.

Each country will be listed alphabetically, with their games listed alphabetically underneath their name.  Each games tab will list the suggested age group, the duration of the game and whether any materials are needed.  With games falling within a 3-15 minute allotted time period, these short durations make the games ideal for children considering most have rather short attention spans.  Tap on the game and you will find an illustration that depicts what the game will look like so you know the basics and if you are following the directions carefully.  Swipe past the image to move to the next page, which will reiterate the suggested age and game’s duration, as well at the setup and necessary materials.  Swipe again and you will find a description of the game as a whole.  Also, in the bottom right corner, users may rate, bookmark or email the game’s details to a friend.

Using the Search tab, users can choose what types of games to look for by specifying their desired age range, preferred duration and country of origin.  They may also filter according to whether a game requires materials or not.  The bottom button will let users sift through the entire list of 225 games.  The Shake tab allows users to choose the desired age group, and then shake their device to choose a random game from all that fall into that given bracket.  The New Game tab allows users to enter the details for their own game, while the Bookmarks tab will list every game that you have bookmarked in the past.

With short games that require no equipment and very few materials, 225 Kid Outdoor Games caters to the simple and easy, while encouraging development, tolerance and interest in other cultures.  By embracing the games other children play in dozens of countries all around the world, perhaps children will learn to be more accepting of these differing culture, as said tolerance will become natural at a young age.  Plus, the convenience of this application helps anyone who must keep a group of children entertained, for it provides a nearly endless supply of amusing activities right in the palm of one’s hand.

225 Kid Outdoor Games [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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Peruse Bruce Springsteen’s Performing Past with iBruce

Price: $1.99     Score: 6/10     By A. Papachristosbadge appstore sm Peruse Bruce Springsteen’s Performing Past with iBruce

Bruce Springsteen has many fans, the reason for his over 30-year career’s longevity.  And while “The Boss” continues to make music and perform  for audiences all over the world, his longtime, performance filled past has resulted in many concerts across the globe.  For those who want to stalk Springsteen’s past, iBruce by Xenialab provides users with a comprehensive list of all his concerts and set lists from 1978 to the present day.

To find iBruce truly useful and wonderful, one must be a serious Springsteen fan, almost to the point of obsession.  The main page, which is actually the first tab, lists every year during which Springsteen performed, with the number of concerts performed that specific year written underneath.  In fact, you can quickly figure out exactly which years he didn’t perform at all just by scrolling through the list, which spans from 1978 to 2009, covering over 1,200 shows.  Choose a year and you will see the list broken down by months, labeling each concert with the name of the city in which Springsteen performed.  Each entry then displays a set list of all the songs performed during the concert, the name of the tour and the name of the venue.

Users may also choose to search for concerts based on where they were performed, listed alphabetically by countries of the world.  Skip over to the Geotag tab, and users will get a visual feel for where Springsteen has performed (mostly North America and western Europe).  And, of course, the ‘By Song’ tab allows users to browse through every song alphabetically.  Tap on your song of interest and you will see where and when that song was performed in the past.

While I do give the developers credit for compiling such an extensive and comprehensive database of information, I find it unfortunate that so much work went into something that is really rather useless.  There doesn’t seem to be much need for an application such as this, especially considering you must spend $1.99 to simply sift through this singer’s past.  I will not deny that it provides you with anything you may ever want to know about Springsteen’s performance history, but knowing where and when he sang something 30 years ago really won’t help in most cases.  Perhaps an application focusing on upcoming news and his future endeavors (in addition to his history, even) would prove more fruitful, for iBruce only leaves me to wonder one thing – Why?

iBruce [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 4.1 or later and is compatible with iPhone and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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