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    cjvitek's Avatar
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    Default Review Blitz: Zen Bound 2, StarMap HD, and Brain Challenge HD

    I have a number of apps that I have been waiting to review, but limited time has prevented me from writing up lengthy reviews. As such, over the next few days, I will be posting some "review" blitzes. Short, to the point reviews of some apps, so people can see if the apps are something they might want to try. I will be happy to answer any questions people may have about the apps, so if you have a comment or question, go ahead and respond in the thread! I will also be doing this on the iPhone apps forum.

    Today's reviews are Zen Bound 2, StarMap HD, and Brain Challenge HD

    Zen Bound 2, by Secret Exit LTD (universal binary)
    $2.99, ****1/2

    • Very relaxing
    • Stunning graphics
    • Intriguing game design

    • Some physics are “unrealistic”
    • Limited replay interest

    I never tried the original Zen Bound game, so when I saw Zen Bound 2 come out (and a universal binary!!) I decided to give it a try. Zen Bound 2 is a fun game, based on the concept of the original. You go through, trying to wrap an object in rope, by twisting and turning the object. You succeed by wrapping a certain percentage of the object with a limited amount of rope. As you progress you have less rope to work with and the objects become more complex. It is a fun, challenging game, although initially I found it to be a little simplistic. The graphics are stunning, and the enhanced mood music really adds to the atmosphere. The game play is great – you move the object with multitouch on the screen, but you can also tilt the iphone to move the rope. My only real complaint is that at times the rope is somewhat unrealistic – it may hang on a corner being pulled tight, when in reality it would slip right past the corner (as an example). This is a really fun game, which can be quite challenging, and is great for showing of the capabilities of the iPhone. Four and a half out of five stars, especially at the $2.99 price for a universal binary!

    StarMap HD, by Fredd
    $18.99, ***

    • Lots of detail

    • Not very intuitive interface
    • Expensive

    StarMap HD is one of the many star gazing apps out there for the iPad. In general, I like iPad stargazing apps much better than those on the iPhone, because of the large screen. However, StarMap HD takes a good thing and somehow negates it through their clunky interface. Initially the app looks great – I had a blast holding it up to the sky and looking at the stars. However, when you try to do any sort of focused star gazing, the app becomes somewhat unwieldy. At the bottom of the screen you have a row of icons (planets, compass, constellations, etc) that you can use for identification. However, if you click on the “more” half the screen fills up with a table of icons – no clear menus or easy to use system. The app does have some nice features – like a “tour guide” option that takes you through the objects that are currently in the sky. You also have lots of options for finding object – either by when they will “rise” into the sky, to looking them up by name. But in total, the clunky interface combined with the high price knocks the app down somewhat in my opinion. Three out of four stars.

    Brain Challenge HD, by Gameloft
    $4.99, ***1/2

    • Easy controls and interface on the iPad

    • No obvious additions to the iPad game play

    Back when I reviewed Brain Challenge on the iPhone, I really enjoyed it. When I saw Brain Challenge was available for the iPad, I thought I would give it a try to see how the game has improved. For those unfamiliar with the game, it consists of a series of “mini games” designed to check your performance in various brain related activities (logic, memory, visual, etc). The game tracks your progress as you play multiple times, rewarding you when you do well (rewarding, meaning simply saying “good job!”). So how is the iPad version? Well, there are some plusses and minuses. The plusses are mostly due to the iPad’s size – the increased screen size makes the game easier to control and manipulate, and for some of the mini-games, it makes them much easier to perform. Unfortunately, there is almost no difference that I could discern between the actual iPad game and the iPhone version. I would have preferred to see some iPad only mini-games developed, to clearly take advantage of the larger real estate available – or at least expand beyond some of the games that were found in the iPhone version. But it appears all they did was import the game into iPad format. Having said that, the game is still fun and challenging (although I would still like to see a multiplayer challenge mode!) so I still have a good time playing. But I wish they had taken the opportunity to expand somewhat, rather than just bringing in the already existing game. Three and a half out of five stars.

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