It’s time to take John Moore on tour. This week I’ll test his music skills with the new Tap Tap Revenge game (hopefully he’s a big Carly Rae Jepsen fan) and look at two very innovative apps for kids plus review the new game franchise from the creators of Angry Birds.
Tap Tap Revenge: Tour
With its fifth installment the popular Tap Tap Revenge music series takes its first step towards having a story. You’re now a musician that travels the world, performing for audiences that cheer or boo depending on how well you play. You’re still tapping or holding the screen to match the notes of songs, but now easier to add phone shakes and there are notes that need to be slashed or swiped. These give the game a better sense of flow.
With each day you can turn on the game and find a new venue with one song from the store made temporarily free. If you play well through a set list you can unlock encore songs and virtual pop star trophies such as posters, guitars, or backstage furniture to show off to your friends who can also check out your high scores on Facebook.
The game itself is free and includes a small sample of popular hits and indie tracks, but additional tracks are sold in packs. Typically you’ll get two songs for $0.99. The good news is that you can carry forward tracks from the previous Tap Tap Revenge games. With all the notes, coins, and credits, the store is still a confusing experience, but the rest of the game’s elements are much improved.
From the creators of Angry Birds comes this new puzzle franchise about a boy who likes to builds things from household items. Using laundry baskets, soccer balls, and shelving units you must help Amazing Alex design Rube Goldberg-like contraptions that take a complex path towards popping a balloon or knocking over a pyramid of books. The controls are well thought-out, the physics great, and there’s even a mode where you can design and share your own levels, but somehow Amazing Alex lacks something.
It’s not the comic mischief or Angry Birds, I like that Amazing Alex tries to offer a more innocent sense of play that’s constructive instead of being destructive, but it still needs that kind of pay-off. What the levels need are proper finales where Alex’s contraptions might launch a rocket, catch a mouse, or make breakfast. It’s a fun game, but clearly there’s room for improvement with a sequel.
Cowly Owl’s Clever Apps For Kids
Coming up with an app that can combine technology with a child’s imagination isn’t easy, but here’s two from a new company called Cowly Owl.
Little Digits encourages kids to count using their hands. As they press their fingertips and thumbs against the screen, the app counts them aloud and displays the number. From one finger all the way up to ten, the app takes advantage of the iPad’s touchscreen to detect them all. From there the app will move on to basic math, encouraging kids to add or remove their fingertips in order to work out basic equations in addition and subtraction. It’s very simple, but effective.
This app is about bringing your traditional construction toys to life. The idea is for kids to use LEGO or construction paper to build an outer shell and wheels for a toy vehicle, then place the iPhone within to add animation, sound effects, and controls. As they push their car around, the iPhone will use its accelerometer to respond with revving engines to match the movement. Kids can use the touchscreen to interact with an animated driver or activate animations that show actions like filling the tank with gas.
There are three vehicles you can build. A racing car for speed, a boat to battle leaks and feed ducks, and an ice cream truck that includes controls to make and serve ice cream. I like this last one as it kids can tour their room, serving scoops to all their action figures and dolls.