App review: HD Marine Life

Marine HD is chock full of information about the sea. Unfortunately, none of that information is new or original. Every entry appears to be lifted word-for-word from Wikipedia pages, which are free to anyone with a web browser. What’s more, the app actually makes it more difficult to get information available online. Marine HD presents the information as huge blocks of text that are very difficult to read. The little text that’s not lifted from the free web encyclopedia is littered with misspelled words and sentences that, frankly, make no sense.

For example, the sentence that greets you upon opening the app begins, “Life is not merely around us, there is life even in the most inospitos of our beautiful planet earth, as marine life, a world in which there is also an ecosystem, evolution, biology…” You get the point. If you want Wikipedia pages, don’t pay for the pretty background and information that won’t be updated. Just open a web browser.

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App review: Danny the Dragon Meets Jimmy

Danny the Dragon Meets Jimmy is one of the first apps for kids to take the needs of deaf users in mind. The ASL interpretation of the book is well done, with plenty of expression on the interpreter’s face relaying the impact of the author’s words. It is, however, much less interactive than other children’s storybook apps, which is a wasted opportunity. And often the entire page’s dialogue isn’t shown at once, so kids choosing to read without narration may inadvertently skip parts of the story by finger swiping between pages instead of using the arrow keys on screen.

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App review: Highborn HD

Strategy games are hard to make for a mass audience, but Jet Set Games has found the formula in Highborn HD. By blending tactical decision making with a good dash of humor and entertaining characters, it’s accessible to mild fans of the genre, but core fans will find plenty to enjoy as well. The game’s a good looking one, too. It wisely sticks with a 2-D model when you’re moving your forces around the map, but goes into a cartoon-like 3-D during battles.  The game has a lengthy solo campaign consisting of eight parts (and another “chapter” on the way) as well as a rich multiplayer element.

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App review: Hungry Shark – Part 2

For a low-priced app, there’s not a lot to complain about with Hungry Shark 2, but it’s not a game that’s going to wind up on your most-played list. It’s a fun diversion for older kids, but the gameplay gets repetitive quickly — boiling down to keep eating or you die. The graphics are nice and the sound effects that accompany each kill are fine, but even those get old after time. It might be a fair price for two games (the first Hungry Shark comes bundled with purchase), but ultimately Hungry Shark 2 is a one-trick pony.

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App review: Friendly – Facebook Browser

Since Facebook itself hasn’t come out with an iPad app, you have to applaud Friendly – Facebook Browser for making the effort. This is the best way for Facebook fans to interact with the social network site via the device. The app’s use of large fonts make it easy to browse — and eliminate the need for pinching and zooming the page. The layout is very natural, as well, making it easy to find the area of the site you’re looking for. But there are some standard Facebook features that are noticeably absent. You’re unable to upload any photos via this app and you won’t be able to play any Facebook games, which could be distressing to FarmVille fanatics. The page also doesn’t automatically refresh, meaning if you want to see new updates, you’ll have to click on another tab, then back to your news feed.

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App review: Yertle the Turtle

Yertle the Turtle might not be the best-known book in Dr. Seuss’s catalog, but this app is made with loving reverence to the story. The voice acting is better than many other books that Oceanhouse Media has brought to the market — and the inclusion of a few hidden sound effects in the app make it even more fun. (Touch the illustrations of beleaguered turtle Mack burping or Yertle’s descent from atop his turtle throne and kids will get a giggle.)

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App review: Little Things

While there’s nothing new about hidden object games, Little Things brings a sense of freshness to the genre by tucking those objects inside clever collages. The hundreds of tiny objects on screen will force you to slow down and be methodical in your search, though you’re rewarded for speed with puzzle pieces that unlock new collages. It’s a fun combination of incentives. What’s best about the game, though, is it is infinitely replayable. There are a limited number of collages, but the search list is randomly generated and each collage is made up of so many items that you may never run out of puzzles.

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App review: Madden NFL 11 by EA Sports for iPad

Madden fans are a diverse bunch. Some want absolute realism in the game, while others simply want a fun football arcade game. Madden NFL 11 for iPad offers both. It’s a gorgeous game that’s fairly easy to control, but some of the included gameplay modes, like GameFlow (which calls the plays for you) could aggravate players. (The mode can be turned off, though.) It’s not the same as the console version of the game — and there are a number of holes, such as the missing (but forthcoming) multiplayer mode and franchise mode — but with the extra screen size of the iPad, it’s the best mobile version of the game.

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App review: Science Quiz ?

Despite its funny name, Science Quiz ? is a good basic science teaching tool for grade school kids. It’s a good looking game as well. Developers have taken the time to put a little polish on what is often a dull interface. Questions are written with younger users in mind — although a few might aim a bit lower than necessary. It’s an eclectic mix of questions, ranging from identifying which animals are omnivores to whether a doctor wears a white coat or white pants. The game also makes good use of sound to keep kids playing. They won’t get a big head start on their SATs with this, but kids may learn a thing or two as they play.

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App review: A Science Quiz

Unlike some quizzes that are peppered with easy questions to appeal to the masses, A Science Quiz takes its mission seriously and forces players to exercise their knowledge. It’s not a program with many bells and whistles (there’s no cheery sound for right answers and the interface is about as exciting as a test you’d take in school), but the 420 included questions do force you to think and cover a wide variety of topics. There are occasional typos, however, and the accuracy of some answers has been questioned by users.

Read more at Common Sense Media