American Ball Brings Arcade Skee Ball to the Palm of Your Hand

Price: Free     Score: 7/10     By A. PapachristosAmerican Ball - Sigma Game Limited

Thanks to the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, classic arcade games have made a comeback, bringing such games to the palm of your hand, no tokens required.  Now, with American Ball by Sigma Game Limited, users not only enjoy a good game of skee ball, but the tickets you win can then be used toward virtual furniture to decorate your virtual arcade room, putting a spin on the old-fashioned experience.

When you begin, American Ball will ask if you’d like to connect with Facebook, to which you may answer yes or no.  Once you reach the main menu, you will see an array of buttons: Start Game, More Games, Facebook Connect, and Ear Free Tokens.  Earn Free Tokens guides users to a page of third party application promotions.  If users install and open any of the apps that appear on this page, they will then earn the amount of tokens marked next to each application’s name.  Free apps reward you with fewer tokens than those you must pay for, awarding tokens according to the cost of the application you installed.  More Games, as expected, links to the developer’s site and their other available games.

To start, users will begin with a turntable that lets them choose to access their 360 Bar, Tournaments and Redeem.  Tap the checkmark, then the tiny start button at the bottom to begin.  Each game you play takes two of the 300 tokens you are initially given, giving you nine balls per game.  Then, just swipe upward toward the end of the lane like you would when tossing a regular skee ball.  The counter to the right will track how many balls you have left for the given game.  American Ball tallies your score at the top, while keeping count of your tickets in the bottom left corner and remaining tokens in the bottom right corner.

Once you’ve collected enough tickets, you may begin redeeming them for furniture to decorate your virtual 360 Bar.  When you connect to Game Center and enter online tournament battles, other players can actually come visit your 360 Bar and vice versa, making the gaming experience quite interactive.  And with over 50 3D collectibles to gather, your virtual game room is sure to look spiffy in no time.

Unfortunately, however, it seems that you will inevitably have to pay for more tokens once you run out.  Yes, users can use the Earn Free Tokens button to gather more tokens, but there’s always something odd about such free offers that makes me a little wary.  Considering numerous applications have been chastised for the way they trick users into spending money with in-app purchases, I’ve become cautious in all respects.  Of course, users are given 300 tokens to begin, but when one considers how few tickets they receive, plus how many tickets it takes just to buy a virtual rug, you’re going to play a lot of games just to decorate your room.  On the bright side, you’ll have a lot of fun doing it!  Despite any issues with tokens, game play is extremely entertaining and I only wish I could play an unlimited amount of games without having to worry about invisible, imaginary tokens.

American Ball [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.


PDF-It: Effortlessly Convert and Share Files

Price: $2.99     Score: 9/10     By A. PapachristosPDF-It - Cocoalena Software

Documents are a tricky topic when it comes to today’s current Apple devices, but for those who wish to turn their photographs into PDF files, hope is in sight.  With PDF-It by Cocoalena Software, users can now scan, convert and send PDF files simply by using the built-in camera on their device.  This handy invention proves ideal for those who wish to convert to all digital media, especially when on the go.

Now, users need only take a quick picture of whatever they wish to reproduce.  For those who wish to read a newspaper or magazine article later, just take a quick snapshot of the page and convert the image into a PDF document.  Using email, quickly share your newly made document with others or send it to yourself in order to access the file on your computer at a later time.  Also, iTunes allows file sharing that allows users to link these documents with their iTunes account for easy access later on, as well.  PDF-It also employs AirPrint technology, which works in magical ways to connect with an AirPrint-compatible machine and print your PDF file right from your device.

Gone are the days of ripping pages from magazines just to peruse them later.  In fact, users may wish to use said technology to quickly scan business cards or copy their class notes off a white board, making the files accessible and transferable without ever having to deal with their physical being.

The simple interface makes navigating PDF-It just as easy as creating files.  The top bar allows users to navigate between images and actual files, accompanied by an edit button to the top right.  The bottom navigation bar, however, is where most of the magic happens.  First, you will find the email and print button, which will want to use once you have created your files.  The camera icon opens your device’s camera feature so you may snap a new picture.  The ‘+’ icon allows users to choose a picture from their photo library.  In fact, users can create a multi-page file containing an array of images from your photo library, new images and descriptions.

The gear icon represents the application’s settings.  Here, users can choose whether to include your image description in the file.  They can also choose to have new photos taken automatically save to their photo library.  In regard to the images, users may also set the picture’s resolution (low, medium, or high), the difference inevitably altering the size of the file.  And, to stay updated on all the updates, the information tab gives you a quick rundown of the new features added in the latest update.  With so much to offer, and such quick, dependable speed, PDF-It seems to be a great way to transfer data easily and efficiently.

PDF-It [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 4.2 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.


Compare Connected Contacts with ContactNet

Price: $.99     Score: 6/10     By A. PapachristosContactNet - TopLineSoft Systems

As we go through life, we come to know many people.  From those who are directly related, to those we meet through work, to those who’ve been lifelong friends, we become intertwined in the lives of so many others that it often becomes hard to keep track of our connections.  Now, with ContactNet by TopLineSoft Systems, users can create diagrams to manage their contact relationships, directly using their contacts list to create graphs that track familial, business and friendly relationships.

To begin, users will discover that the first page also represents the Contact Networks page.  Here, users need only tap the ‘+’ icon in the top right corner to add a network, name and description included.  The Contacts tab allows users to access their address book right within the application.  Relation Types shall be where users enter the name and description of their various connections.

Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a tab that teaches you how to use the application to its fullest extent.  Thankfully, users can learn how to use ContactNet by watching this YouTube demonstration video.  Though I am personally still a bit confused by the process, this video certainly helps clear up any issues one may have had with the basic operations of ContactNet.  Promising an unlimited number of diagrams, users can create numerous charts that will explore their contacts’ relationships and connections to not only the user, but every other contact, as well.

With resizable diagram sheets that can accommodate graphs of any size, users can put together charts that span relationship types on multiple levels.  And, with full address book integration, users can add, view, edit, search and delete contacts all from within ContactNet.  According to the App Store description, users can even make phone calls and utilize the email and SMS features.

And while this all sounds comprehensive and useful, I still cannot conjure up any idea as to why anyone would care to spend a great amount of time plotting out a chart based on their relationship with everyone in their address book.  If you watch the video tutorial, the actual diagram-making process seems tedious and useless.  If you want to remember how you know someone, just jot it down under their contact notes, and if you want to know the relationship between various contacts, there’s a good chance Facebook can plot this out in more definitive detail than a shoddy self-made chart.  Though I cannot seem to come to terms with ContactNet’s redundancy, I do believe that someone somewhere will find this wonderfully convenient.  Until you’ve decided, check out the lite version to test out the key features.

ContactNet [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 4.0 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.


Find the Wonderful Wizard of Oz on Your iPhone

Price: $1.99    Score: 9/10    By M. SchustermanOz Wizard : the Interactive Storybook for Children - BlueFinger

I love checking out a storybook app for the first time, simply because there’s so much potential. The animation, the sound, the educational component, the special effects – apps really can change this medium, hopefully in a positive way.

Oz Wizard, an app designed by BlueFinger, introduces children to the story of the Wizard of Oz over eighteen pages, with the option of having the text and audio in either English or Hangul (Korean). The main menu is simple, with a large “Play” button to begin the story. You can also select “Read Myself” to see the text with no audio.

The illustrations are lovely, as well as interactive. The text appears at the top right, and as the audio plays, the sentences are highlighted so children can read along. You can tap the “stop” button at any time to diminish the text and mute the audio. Tapping different people and objects on the screen may activate movement and sounds; to find them all, just tap the exclamation point in the top right corner.

What I particularly liked about it was that it wasn’t formulaic, meaning every page didn’t feature the same animations. For example, when Dorothy meets the scarecrow, she (and the child) “help” him out of the cornfield and over the fence with a touch and drag. Likewise, the reader helps all of the characters, even Toto, cross over into the land of Oz.

Overall, the app’s interface is definitely a simple one that children will have no problem using. The story is of course classic, and while I did find one typo in the text, I appreciate that children can read along with audio assistance and gradually move on to reading the text alone. Oz Wizard is an excellent way to introduce children to the magical story of Oz on your iPhone.

Oz Wizard [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 3.1 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.


Good News Bible Acts as Educational Tool, Handy Mobile Text

Price: $6.99     Score: 9/10     By A. PapachristosGood News Bible - HarperCollins Publishers Ltd

The Bible has been at the top of the bestsellers list for as long as anyone can remember.  Hailed as the voice of God, Christians devote much time and energy to learning the stories and spreading their meaning all as a part of their belief in a higher power.  But no matter how much one reads or studies, they are bound to need help along the way.  With Good News Bible by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, users not only have the Bible’s full text in the palm of their hand at any moment, but also an educational tool that teaches and tests the extent of your Bible knowledge.

When you begin, you will find the main menu, which actually continues on to a second page.  Simply swipe to access all the available features.  The first, and main, icon takes you directly to the Good News version of the Bible, which has sold 150 million copies and promises to be the most popular, easy-to-read translation.

Colorful and interactive, users can choose whether to focus solely on the Old or New Testament or both, as well as choose the book, chapter and verse with which they’d like to begin.  Users may also use the magnifying glass icon in the top right corner of the main screen to specifically search for keywords.  While reading, users can jot down notes and mark passage for later reference.

However, Good News Bible doesn’t just provide the entire text, but learning tools, as well.  Each of the menu’s other icons are labeled with their precise use.  The scrolling timeline, for instance, plots out the important points of the Bible, while ‘Who’s Who?’ provides 52 profiles detailing key figures.  ‘About the Bible’ answers the pressing questions that the less familiar reader may ask.  ‘Introductory Reading Plan’, in fact, caters to beginners by plotting out a course of action for reading the entire text.  ‘Life Issues’ uses lessons from the Bible to help you work through some of life’s tougher situations, recommending passages and thoughtful introspection.

For those who want to test their knowledge, the Quiz button leads to over 60 quizzes focused on characters and themes found within the Bible.  The Maps section provides maps that represent the World of the Bible, New Testament Israel, Old Testament Israel and Paul’s Journeys, while the Dictionary houses over 1800 key terms one may wish to look up during their studies.  Swipe over to the next page and users will find easy access to sections focusing on Miracles of Jesus, Parables of Jesus, Help, Passages for Occasions, Prayers from the Bible and Inspiration.  Connect to Facebook to share such inspirational quotes with your friends.  With an expansive array of features, Good News Bible has left no stone unturned!

For a video demonstration of what Good News Bible has to offer, click here.

Good News Bible [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.


Dastardly ‘DoodleBoy’ Destroys Deadly Zombies and Killer Clowns

Price: $.99    Score: 7/10    By A. PapachristosDoodleBoy Lite - The Violence Park - j2sighte

The park is overrun by the evil undead, and only you can stomp them from running rampant in the streets.  As you play, you become DoodleBoy, a gun-carrying, knife-wielding youngster who must destroy the killer zombies and clowns roaming the park.  With DoodleBoy – the Violence Park by Jerry Lee, you must create a strategy for killing these creepy creatures before they bombard you and tear you to pieces.

The main menu greets users with a sinister little boy waving a weapon in front of a Ferris wheel in the bottom right corner of the screen.  At the top of the page, users will find both the New Game and Credits buttons, while the Options, Change Face, More games and Prizes buttons occupy the bottom.  More Games, as implied, features advertisements for other games by the developer.  The Prizes button acts as a trophy case of sorts, displaying all the dolls you collect throughout the game, for there are 10 to find during game play.  Here, users may also access the Game Center leaderboards and achievements.

Options allows users to adjust the sound and music volume levels.  Users may also choose their game difficulty – easy, medium, or hard.  Change Face, the most interesting of these components, actually provides users with an easy way to draw their own character face or import a picture of themselves and use it in place of the character’s typical face animation.

As you journey through the park, gamers earn money within the application that will later allow them to purchase more ammunition and weapon and mana upgrades, with 24 different weapons and four different mana items to choose from at the end of each stage.  In fact, once you’ve passed one boss stage, you may even use your money to hire one of the three available killers to help you in your efforts.

You will find the health and mana bars in the top left corner.  Your mana and ammo remaining stats, plus life hearts, money accumulated and the pause button all reside in the top right corner.  The bottom left corner features the navigational buttons, which you’ll use to move back and forth across the screen.  For access to you mana, knife and gun, use their respective icons in the bottom right corner.  Just tap them to enable their use.  To try the Lite version of DoodleBoy, click here.

Though you may find yourself running out of ammo quickly at first, leaving you to get mauled by approaching zombies (because your knife just doesn’t kill them quick enough), you will quickly develop your own strategy for conserving ammo and killing the undead, all while successfully reaching the carousel and moving on to the next stage.  Throughout the game, you will find targets scattered along your path.  Shoot them or give them a good slice with your knife to destroy them and reveal bonus money or extra ammo.  Eventually, you will find your own rhythm that kills those menacing monsters and keeps you alive – a delightful challenge!

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

DoodleBoy [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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