Teddy’s Night – A New Interactive Children’s Storybook for iPad

Price: $0.99   Score: 9/10   By S. CampbellTeddy's Night - Auryn Inc.

Answering every young girl’s curiosity about what her teddy gets up to when she’s asleep, What Does My Teddy Bear Do All Night (Teddy’s Night) from Auryn, Inc. is a new iPad storybook that is sure to be a big hit with the kids.

Featuring charming illustrations in a bright and colorful pastel-style and with a story clearly narrated by a young girl, Teddy’s Night is a great choice for a night-time read.

Featuring little interactive elements on every page that are highlighted to allow interaction, each can be triggered with a tap that starts a short animation that will engage young hands as well as minds. Some of the animations are quite amazing – they transition from a static 2D painting into a beautifully rendered 3D scene and are easily some of the most polished animations I’ve seen in an iPad storybook thus far.

Longer than many other children’s storybooks on the app store, and also at a lower price – Teddy’s Night comes highly recommended for bedtime reading with the young ones.

Also available in the series is What Does My Teddy Bear Do All Day (Teddy’s Day).

Teddy’s Night [iTunes Link] is compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 3.2 or later. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.


Awkward Navigation Takes isober U in the Wrong Direction

Price: $.99     Score: 7/10     By A. Papachristosisober U - Helpfulapps

We can’t all be racecar-driving enthusiasts, but we can all admit that, at one time or another, we do indeed have the need for speed.  Unfortunately, we can’t take to the city streets or the police with slap us with a huge fine in five seconds flat.  Therefore, we must find a supplemental thrill to tie us over, and there’s nothing more accessible than gaming on your portable Apple device.  While there are numerous racing games to choose from, isober U by Helpfulapps employs drag and drive technology, truly putting the dream of driving right at their fingertips.

Surrounded by city and suburban settings, users must navigate the winding streets and sudden obstacles as they speed their way down the road.  The main menu provides three buttons – New Game, Options and High Scores.  Options, of course, allow users to the sound and music on or off, while High Scores displays your top five totals for each available vehicle.  When you choose New Game, you must first pick from three vehicles: two cars and one motorcycle.  Then, choose which of the five levels you’d like to attempt.  Drag the vehicle with your finger to avoid walls and obstacle, for you will explode in a fiery blast if you collide.  Your scores will be logged by the application itself, but users may also share scores via Facebook and Twitter.

Described as a fun, addictive car game, isober U claims to be partly educational based on the idea that it shows gamers what happens to your reflexes and concentration when you’re tired, stressed, high or drunk.  However, the simulation feels less like driving drunk and more like driving blind, for your fingers covers the entire vehicle as you guide it across the screen.

Knowing my fingers are smaller than average, I can imagine that others will experience even more of a hassle.  And, quite frankly, I’m not quite sure where the educational component factors in, for the sharp transitions and random obstacles fail to simulate driving under the influence.  Regardless, isober U provides a mediocre racing game that is certainly worth a test run.  Try the isober HD Lite version and see how it feels to be behind the wheel for yourself.

isober U [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 4.2 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.


Don’t Drop 2 is a Challenging iPad Puzzler

Price: $0.99   Score: 7/10   By S. CampbellDon't Drop 2 - Tech BLA Solutions Pvt ltd

Don’t Drop 2 is a new and challenging game from Tech Bla Solutions. Available now for iPad, Don’t Drop 2 is a solid, if sometimes frustrating offering for fans of the puzzle genre.

Players have to guide a constant stream of water droplets from the top of a wall to the bottom, guiding the droplets through a series of grooves and into a bucket waiting below. You have to move bricks on the screen left and right to collect the droplets in the “seepages” – the gaps in the bricks. The control of this brick-shifting is fundamental to the game mechanic and can be hard to get a handle on to begin with.

Even in the early stages, it takes a lot of frantic finger swiping to line up all the grooves in each respective row of bricks that you’ll end up losing a majority of droplets while concentrating on getting just one or two actually into the bucket. Adding to the challenge, the bucket itself moves from side to side of its own accord so you can guide the droplets to the bottom of the screen perfectly and then miss the bucket altogether because the timing was off. The key is not concentrating on the top of the screen at all and then just sliding the bottom couple of rows at the right second to collect incoming drops and land them in the bucket.

Each droplet that you successfully catch will score you points, which allows you to unlock each of the 9 different backgrounds that come loaded with Don’t Drop 2.

A number of items create an additional challenge and appear on the screen to suck away your droplets or to turn them into bubbles. There are also a number of boosters that you can collect mid-game to increase your high score, as well as special items like a magnet that allows you to draw all the drops of water on screen towards it and a plant that you can grow with the droplets for extra points.

Don’t Drop 2 features two game modes – Careers and Timer. In Career mode you work your way through each of the nine levels by achieving a requisite score in the preceding level. In Timer mode you get 1 min 15 secs to get the highest score that you can. Both modes are OpenFeint enabled and you can post your high scores and check out leaderboards and compare your scores to other players from around the world.

For just $0.99, Don’t Drop 2 may not be the slickest puzzle game you’ve ever played but it’s certainly unique and provides a good deal of challenge.

Don’t Drop 2 [iTunes Link] is compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 4.2 or later. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.


Mind Scan Camera Free Fails to Find Inner Emotions

Price: Free    Score: 6/10     By A. PapachristosMind Scan Camera Free : The Emotion-Aware Photo Booth - BlueFinger

Perhaps you’re smiling on the outside, a mask that shields the world from your innermost feelings.  However, Mind Scan Camera Free: The Emotion-Aware Photo Booth by BlueFinger claims that it can differentiate your mind from your facial expressions, exposing how you truly feel through photo analysis.

The basic concept implies that Mind Scan Camera Free can detect up to 12 different moods: happiness, excitement, “no-idea”, anger, joy, worry, loneliness, fatigue, sadness, “poker face”, surprise and boredom.  With multiple face technology, users need only snap a face-front picture to supposedly reveal the inner emotions of all their subjects, the post to Twitter and Facebook.

Upon startup, users will find the main menu, which allows them to either take a picture right within the application or choose any image from their photo library.  Below, the menu also provides buttons for purchasing the full version, rating the application and reading its basic information.  When you take a picture within the application itself, use the camera feature as you normally would, then choose ‘retake’ or ‘use’ once you’ve acquired said image.  Mind Scan Camera Free will begin to scan and process your image.  Simply touch the image once the app is ready to reveal your subject’s true emotions.

For those using the Pro version, you not only cut out all of the annoying ads, but the need to touch the image to reveal the result as well.  Unfortunately, the small price tag still seems like quite a bit of money when you consider how ridiculous Mind Scan Camera Free truly is in the first place.  While I think we can safely assume that no one expects an application to really be able to detect your innermost feelings, Mind Scan Camera Free also fails in the fun department.  I’m sure such an app should be taken in jest, but when you fail to make customers laugh and enjoy, the premise goes from gimmicky to god-awful.

Mind Scan Camera Free [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.


Magic Beans Makes Gamers Go Bonkers

Price: $.99     Score: 5/10     By A. PapachristosMagic Beans* - sangwoo Im

Magic beans may have built Jack a giant beanstalk, but not every seed sown can lead to a goose that lays the golden eggs.  Sometimes that beanstalk is really just a weed growing up through the cracks.  With Magic Beans by Sangwoo Im, users must transport magical beans through given portals, making game play nearly as ambiguous as the concept itself.

Magic Beans begins with an introduction that touches upon the games main task – transporting magic beans through the magic been portals, of course.  Once you arrive at the main menu, you will see the Play button in the middle along with numerous icons sprawled across the bottom.

The beans icon represents Upgrades, which it appears you can purchase with crystals.  This page also lists your current Force, Attraction and Repulsion levels.  The gears icon opens the Options page, which lets you adjust your background music and sound effects preferences.  Users may also elect to show or hide their hints and the introduction.  Unfortunately, the dollar sign, bar graph and trophy icons refused to open their respective pages, for all that resulted was an incessant error message every single time I tapped.

Luckily, the Play button worked, leading to the page where you must choose single player mode or Player vs. Player.  However, Player vs. Player costs an additional $.99, so do not bother with the added expense unless you truly love this game and can convince others to purchase Magic Beans in the first place.  You will then find a screen with two signs, though neither sign features words.  Simply tap so you may proceed to unlock levels.

As you play, the mini tutorial will finally provide you with some guidance so you no longer have to walk through the game blindly.  You will learn to collect crystals so you may purchase upgrades that will ultimately enhance game play.  I’m not entirely sure if there’s any distinct technique for success, but tapping the portals seems to coax these crazy beans into the transporter.  Strange dark orbs will also appear, and they seem to come in handy when luring the beans to their rightful resting spot.

Unfortunately, the game quickly escalates to an annoying level of confusion when you must build bigger beans to break down obstacles.  No matter how hard you try, the obstacle just won’t move because your bean just isn’t big enough, though that may stem from the fact that it quickly shrinks despite your efforts to condense those jumping nuisances.  While I’m sure persistence would eventually lead to success, the game quickly morphs into something tedious and uneventful, which seems to be the exact opposite definition of entertaining gaming.

Magic Beans [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.


Plan for Parenthood with Parent Prep School

Price: $2.99     Score: 8/10     By A. PapachristosParent Prep School - Parent Prep School

For new parents, the months leading up to your child’s birth can be quite confusing and busy as you try to adjust your current lifestyle and habits to accommodate a newborn.  For those who are the first in their circle of friends to have a child, advice may be sparse for known of your pals know the ins-and-outs of parenthood quite yet.  Luckily, Parent Prep School by Parent Prep School acts as a surrogate mother, programming weekly events into your normal calendar so as to guide you through your pregnancy slowly and easily.

Users will begin with the welcome screen, which also doubles as the About tab.  This page alerts you to the fact that you are about to sync Parent Prep School with your device’s built-in calendar.  Because iCal does not have any privacy settings, anyone may be able to access your entries, so protect your information if you’re trying hide your pregnancy from others.  On the Sync page, users need only to enter their name, email address and due date.  Choose the calendar you wish to sync with and on which day you’d like the events to appear each week.  To change event dates, simply return to the Sync screen and adjust your settings.

You see, Parent Prep School aims to help expectant parents prepare for their child’s arrival slowly and in manageable intervals so they’re never overwhelmed.  These events range from practical advice that will help you stay ahead of the game, to humorous tidbits that ease some of the stress that comes along with bringing a new life into the world.  These events appear once a week, spacing things out evenly, though you can create your own events to tack on to your calendar as you would naturally.  This way, users can track doctor’s appointments and to-do’s all at once!

However, Parent Prep School only consists of advice from those who have “been there, done that” and up-to-date information that shall consistently be updated to reflect the latest information regarding expectant parents.  And while they cannot begin to cover every single topic or situation you may come across in the next nine months, or the months following, they do a wonderful job of guiding you in the right direction.

Parent Prep School [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.

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