Dive Deep, Uncover Hidden Worlds with Atlantis Oceans

Price: $1.99     Score: 7/10     By A. Papachristosbadge appstore sm Dive Deep, Uncover Hidden Worlds with Atlantis Oceans

When one thinks role-playing game in a modern context, their mind immediately zeroes in on first-person shooter games.  With a vast majority of games featuring war-related themes, the concept of adventure and exploration has fallen by the wayside.  However, Atlantis Oceans by Sunrise Software attempts to revitalize such games as you plunge deep into the oceans of the world to unlock the mysteries of the lost Kingdom of Atlantis.

Users will start by being asked to enable their OpenFeint account or create a new account if they do not already have one.  This will allow you to access the worldwide leaderboards.  Users will then immediately move on to the introduction, which reveals that you must travel to all corners of the earth to retrieve the keys that will unlock the Kingdom of Atlantis.  Once complete, tap the ‘See Help’ button to reveal a general tutorial explaining the various controls you will need to know.  You must also proceed through the tutorial in order to finally reach the main menu, which displays many buttons: Campaign, Challenges, Warehouse, OpenFeint and Options.  Also, the blinking question mark in the upper right corner allows users to revisit the tutorial at any time.

Under Options, users can adjust their music, joystick, blood and vibrate preferences, choose whether to play left-handed or right-handed, and even enter cheat names.  In the upper right corner of the screen, users will see a flashing link that allows them to contact the developer if need be, while the link in the bottom left corner allows users to watch the introduction again in case they missed something the first play through.  The OpenFeint button, of course, brings users to the leaderboards, where they can monitor their achievements and compare their high scores against players all around the world.  The Warehouse button displays all the things you have collected during your adventures within the game.

Challenges and Campaign are directly linked, for you must play the Campaign mode in order to unlock the various challenges available at the diving sites.  As explorer Francesca Carlyle, you will begin your search in Egypt, where you will grow accustomed to the environment and gain experience by collecting fish and selling them to earn gold at the market.  Though you have been given a complete set of equipment, the more gold and experience you gain, the more equipment becomes available to you.  Use your gold to upgrade your gear so you can swim deeper, collect more fish and swim faster than before.  One simply needs to pay attention to their health, oxygen and depth levels in the shark-infested waters to remain afloat.

While the graphics aren’t exactly the most advanced, users will this to actually be an endearing quality, for Atlantis Oceans does not depend on snazzy graphics, but challenges and accomplishments.  (Plus, watching Francesca’s zombie arms flail as she walks up and down the stairs provides a good giggle.)  Instead, users will become addicted to the mission, doing their best to obtain everything they need to carry out a successful mission.

For a video demonstration of what Atlantis Oceans has to offer, click here.

Atlantis Oceans [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

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Love Sushi? Learn Even More with Teach Me Sushi Expert

Price: $4.99     Score: 10/10     By A. Papachristosbadge appstore sm Love Sushi? Learn Even More with Teach Me Sushi Expert

Sushi can be quite addictive.  As far as healthy, filling meals go, sushi is often a favorite for many, leaving people always hungering to try the many different types available.  Luckily, Teach Me Sushi Expert by Teach Me Sushi satisfies such cravings.  As a follow-up to Teach Me Sushi, Teach Me Sushi Expert expands upon the lessons taught through the original, allowing users to learn even more recipes for delicious, homemade sushi.

Users will start with the main menu, which allows you to scroll through every category offered.  The list begins with an Introductory video, followed by a list off all the sushi types you can learn to make: Shrimp Tempura, Spicy Crunchy Tuna, Temari, Philadelphia Roll, Volcano Roll, California Roll, Vegetable Nigiri, and Naruto Roll.  At the bottom of this menu, users will find Ask Jake, which features a video answering the four most frequently asked questions they have received since the original Teach Me Sushi was released.  (If your particular question has not been answered, simply visit the More tab, which provides easy access to Teach Me Sushi’s Facebook fan page, Twitter and email, where you can ask a question and get a response within 24 hours.)

Each sushi category will contain its own video, featuring 5-minute long instructional sessions on how to prepare the given sushi, totaling over 45-minutes of video combined directly within the application itself.  These eight videos teach users how to make these advanced rolls, as well as the step-by-step instructional photographs included with each tutorial.  Whether you learn best by demonstration, or comprehend lessons better with pictures and written directions, Teach Me Sushi Expert has you covered.  Each roll even includes a tabbed section that tells users a little more about that specific type of sushi.

However, Teach Me Sushi Expert doesn’t just stop there.  Peruse the bottom navigation bar and you will find multiple other features that further assist in your sushi-making endeavors.  For instance, the Shopping List Calculator helps you determine exactly what items you will need and how much of each depending on the number of people for whom you are making sushi.  The Equipment tab provides users with a list of all the necessary tools they’ll need before they can begin, including a tab that allows Teach Me Sushi Expert to tap into your GPS location and locate the nearest store where you may buy these necessities.  And, the Rice Timer provides a precise countdown so you will never have to guess whether your rice is sufficiently prepared or not.

As a fantastic addition to your sushi lesson collection, Teach Me Sushi Expert builds upon the great features of the original to bring user even more sushi varieties to quell their addiction.  For a video demonstration, click here.

Teach Me Sushi Expert [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

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Tour•bot Is Your iPhone Golf Tournament Manager

Price: $4.99    Score: 9/10    By S. Campbellbadge appstore sm Tour•bot Is Your iPhone Golf Tournament Manager

Developed by James Prete, tour•bot is a comprehensive tournament golf scoring utility for iPhone. Great for the weekend game, local tournament or corporate round – tour•bot takes the hard work of keeping score on the greens.

tour•bot allows you to easily keep track of multiple games and events with any number of players – from just a few buddies to your whole workplace. To begin you simply add a course’s data by tapping on “courses” in the nav bar. You can enter club name, course name, tee ratings, slope and select par and if you want to get detailed you can also enter in par and handicap for each hole.

Once you’ve punched in your course data you can begin adding players by entering full name/nickname, handicap and even a photo if desired. You can also link to their contact record on your iPhone so that you can email them a report of the round later on.

Next, you go to the “Tours” tab and set up the details of your game. You can select from a number of different game types, including score skins, 2-player best ball and 4-player best ball. For the best ball options you can select the team pairings from within the same page. The Tour Setup page displays a scrollable list of the tournament players and courses that you have inputted into the app, so all it takes is a couple of taps to select the players/course that you want for your event.

After everything is set up it’s easy to enter in player scores, view player performance as well as the event leaderboard. Tour•bot can also generate reports of the event, which can be previewed on your iPhone prior to being emailed to yourself or to the other tournament players.

A serious app for serious golfers, tour•bot is the perfect app to manage a tournament of any size or type. There’s no other app like it that allows such comprehensive tracking of an entire event, all from the palm of your hand.

tour•bot [iTunes Link] is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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Redecorate Your Device with Home Screen Backgrounds

Price: $1.99     Score: 8/10     By A. Papachristosbadge appstore sm Redecorate Your Device with Home Screen Backgrounds

For those wishing to express their more creative side, the standard images that come with your device may not suffice as a home screen background, and your personal pictures may not be the precise quality you’re looking for in an image.  But with Home Screen Backgrounds by Ayogo GmbH, users will find an array of over 20 custom designs created to accentuate and enhance the appearance of your home screen and icons.

To sift through the available backgrounds, use the arrows in either bottom corner to navigate through your choices.  While some are duller than others, most display a vibrant creativity that highlights your home screen beautifully.  Splash Drops, for instance, makes your screen look like paint is dripping from your icons, while Cloth looks like a burlap sack.  The Chess Board background resembles a lavish bathroom floor, while Fire Icons lives up to its name, lighting your icons ablaze.  (Personally, the Grass layout is my favorite, for I love the texture, flowers and cut out sections that fit each icon perfectly.)

To see what your home screen may look like without ever having to leave the application, tap the Show Icons button to test out what your screen will look like with icons in place.  Once you’ve decided which background pleases you the most, tap Download Image to save the background to your Photo Library.  Though it would be more convenient if there were some way for users to set their background right within the application, users simply have to then adjust their settings for their background as they normally would with any image in their Photo Library.

Home Screen Backgrounds provides users with great, creative alternatives to the typical images that come with every Apple device and will transform anyone’s device into a beautiful work of art.

(Minimum requirements for Home Screen Backgrounds include iOS4 on nothing less than an iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 or iPod Touch 3rd Generation.)

Home Screen Backgrounds [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 3.0 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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Send Cute Creations, Characters via iPhone with TextPics

Price: $.99     Score: 7/10     By A. Papachristosbadge appstore sm Send Cute Creations, Characters via iPhone with TextPics

When it comes to emoticons, people either love them, hate them, or use them much too often.  With the same sad faces and smiles constantly popping up in text messages and across the Internet, it’d be lovely if we could communicate a little more creatively.  With TextPics – Creative SMS Art for iPhone Texting by FTW Innovations, iPhone users can send each other text messages that use various keyboard characters to create images using just what they’ve got in their hand.

The main screen provides a scroll-through menu that shows every category available, including New TextPics (newest images from their latest update), Animals, Bunnies, Celebration, Food, Other, Halloween, People, Romance, Vehicles, Japanese Emotes (standard emoticons), Symbols and Upside Down Text.  In fact, TextPics features over 100 customizable ASCII images, over 70 Japanese-style emotes, and more than 100 Western-style emotes with new TextPics and emotes added every two weeks and the ability to create your very own images.

To begin, pick any category and peruse the images until you find the one you’d like to send.  Tap to reveal the menu, which will present the various options: Send to Contact, Copy to Clipboard, and Add to Favorites.  Those running iOS 4 can send text messages right within the application.

The bottom navigation bar presents four different tabs.  TextPics marks the main page, which displays the menu of categories available.  Favorites lives up to its name, taking you to a page with all those images you have marked as favorites, which will most likely end up being a list of images you use most often.  Recents obviously lists your recently used images.  Create allows users to make their own images, saving them to your list of favorites.  Users may even find their creations appear in future TextPics updates.

TextPics’ only unfortunate aspect, however, stems from the fact that it truly only works when iPhone users text other iPhone users.  While the Western-style emotes are typical emoticons and will translate to other phones, the remainder of the images, symbols and text may become distorted on other phones for they do not use the same font or format as an iPhone.  So, unless the majority of your friends have an iPhone, this application will quickly render itself impractical.

For iPod Touch users, they will first need to download an application that provides texting capabilities.  Then, simply copy the image to the clipboard, insert and send.  This surely has its shortcomings, too, for many texting apps only allow users to text to others using that very app and many similar stipulations.

The Help button in the upper right corner of the main screen addresses the incompatibility issues along with other questions, including the fact that they will soon update to include full Facebook integration, making the app slightly more useful, though users can already copy these images and paste them into various other applications if desired.

TextPics [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 3.0 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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Cook Authentic Australian Dishes with Chef’s Recipes

Price: $2.99     Score: 8/10     By M. Schustermanbadge appstore sm Cook Authentic Australian Dishes with Chefs Recipes

Considering that I’ve unofficially declared myself an amateur Iron Chef, I was pretty excited when this app popped up. The unique thing about Chef’s Recipes is that it focuses on modern Australian cuisine. And in addition to recipes, you can also create and add your own, and the app will create shopping lists based on your menu plans.

As it’s still in its first version, I feel like the app is missing a little bit, although it’s worth noting that developer Ralf Hollax mentions on their iTunes page that we can expect regular updates and new recipes in the future. The main menu features several food categories, including starters and salads, fish and seafood, meat, dessert and sides. Some categories have over a dozen dishes, while others have just a few, so I look forward to getting more. In addition, quite a few of the dishes are missing pictures and/or an overview.

However, I really love the layout. When you choose a dish, you can navigate back and forth between the overview, ingredients and method using tabs at the top. You can also share recipes via Facebook, Twitter or email, in addition to adding them to your favorites, creating a menu with several dishes, and making shopping lists.

One thing I noticed is that, while the shopping list is a great idea, it doesn’t combine items. For example, if I add a dish that uses a cup of white sugar and a dish that uses two cups of white sugar to the list, they are listed separately rather than as three cups.

Recipe creation is simple. You can add all of the components, including a picture, and categorize it along with the recipes that come with the app. Of course, all of your recipes can also be added to your menus and shopping lists. I’d keep an eye out for future versions; while you may not get a ton of recipes in this one, the recipes you do get are quite different and worth trying.

Chef’s Recipes [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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