Title: Local Birds
Springtime. Flowers are blooming. The sun is shining. Birds are singing… and flying by and hanging out on the lawn. Hey, what kind of bird is that anyway? If you’ve wondered about this, Local Birds can help.
Title: Niko and the Sword of Light
Cost: Free download (first three chapters), 3.99 for full comic
Platform: iOS, Android, Kindle Fire
This fully animated comic stands on the line between comic book and cartoon. It tells the story of Niko, a young warrior, in an archetypal struggle between good and evil, portrayed in this world as light and dark. Niko has sworn to avenge his people by fighting the dark beasts and ridding the land of evil. Along journey he comes across strange creatures who help and hinder his progress. Continue reading
Cost: Free (with in-app purchase options)
Imagine yourself in a dark hallway. You don’t know the shape of the room, or which way you need to go. The only way to navigate is by playing Scrabble with round tiles that light the way. As you place each word, more of the space becomes visible. Welcome to QatQi.
Named for two words that use Q without U, qat an evergreen plant whose leaves are chewed as a stimulant and qi, life energy in Chinese philosphy, QatQi provides a puzzle for every day, ranging from easy to excruciating. ‘ You might have one small room and 11 letters, or several rooms and over a hundred letters. All the while, you try to structure your words to branch from each other in ways that will let you build into each new room, and place letters on spaces containing coins to collect extra points. Like many word games, longer words are worth more points, and being mindful of word spacing will give you opportunities to get rid of your letters by building off of words you have already played. Continue reading
Title: Plants vs. Zombies 2
Cost:‘ Free, with in-app purchase options
Platform: iOS (so far)
The original Plants vs. Zombies was one of my first app reviews for this blog.’ ‘ Over the past couple of years the game has gained ‘ popularity; it has plush toys, cosplayers, and tons of accolades.’ The strength of this franchise is in its world building.’ All of the details of design, music, and comical backstory, come together to create a consistent look and feel. In the world of this game, an army of plants is obviously the best way to defend your home from zombies.’ A sequel was only a matter of time.
Time, as it turns out, is the theme of the sequel, the full title of which reads: Plants vs. Zombies 2 “It’s about time.” Crazy Dave, your neighbor and zombie fighting mentor, has found himself a time machine and gotten you lost in time and space in pursuit of the experience of eating a recently consumed taco again. You find yourself traveling through Ancient Egypt, Pirate Seas, and the Wild West, each decorated in typical Plants vs. Zombies style and populated by thematically appropriate zombies with thematically appropriate powers of destruction. But not to worry, you have plants: some old some new, and all with exciting power-ups.
Title: Color Zen
Platform: iOS and Android
Color Zen occupies a special place in my gaming heart right near games like Flow (which I reviewed for the YALSAblog App of the Week here), Boomshine (which you can download for iOS or play online here) and my favorite game that is for some reason not available as an app, Alchemy (from the people who brought us Plants vs. Zombies). These games are colorful, easy to learn, and relaxing on the early levels. By the later levels, they cause your brain to wrench, twist, and try to flip itself over as you attempt to develop increasingly sophisticated strategies to solve increasingly’ difficult puzzles. Continue reading
Platform: iOS, Android, Web
This week’s app comes to you from Kayla,’ a teen who works as a page at my library. The other day she came to tell me about the easy way she was doing biology homework on her phone. Since she was using the app, and if I downloaded it I would not have a class to practice with, I asked Kayla to tell us about how it works:
“Your teacher can upload multiple choice questions for you to answer for homework. They can limit how many times you can answer them, so it can give you a challenge by only having you do it once, or you can re-do it a few times and fix your mistakes. It’s a good learning site, because it’s hands on.’ It’s a good way to review for big tests because the multiple choice questions reflect what you’ve done in class.’ Teachers and students can post notes on it, and can comments on each other’s notes.’ You can look at the schedule for future assignments.’ You can put photos, vidoes, and files from drop box to share with the class. Students might upload their notes.”
Platform: iOS and Android
This game is really pretty. It’s also really hard. NightSky begins with the premise of a mysterious glowing orb found on a beach. The nameless narrator’s text tells us that upon bringing it home he or she began to have strange dreams. This, combined with a soundtrack that is quirky bordering on eerie, sets the tone for a strange dream of a game.
Title: Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters
Platform: iOS and Android
Happy Teen Tech Week! This week’s app is a great example of technology and books coming together.
Cassandra Clare writes books about a race of’ demon hunters called Shadowhunters. She currently has two series with equally compelling ensemble casts: The Mortal Instruments which takes place in a contemporary urban fantasy setting, and The Infernal Devices which is set in a slightly steampunky nineteenth century. I’m getting pretty excited about her upcoming releases. Clockwork Princess, the third and final installment of The Infernal Devices trilogy’ is coming to a library or bookstore near you this Tuesday, March 19. The City of Bones movie opens in theaters this summer, on August 23. And City of Heavenly Fire,’ the sixth and final book in The Mortal Instruments is due to be released next year. Clare will continue to write about Shadowhunters in forthcoming series The Dark Artifices.
Cost: Free, upgrade for .99
I’ve played a lot of app games this year, and while many of them are fun and compelling, Letterpress stands out.’ It is every bit the addictive game of the moment, but two qualities make it particularly engaging: it is social and intellectually stimulating.’ Playing against friends makes this game about connection and competition and the way you play is a challenge’ of vocabulary and strategy.’ It is a simple game, but it involves’ a little more thinking than your average app game, which has caused it to capture my attention.’ It seems I am not the only one.’ Letterpress came out in October and was an instant hit; according to this post from the New York Times Bits Blog, which also gives some background on the app’s creator Loren Brichter, it was downloaded around 60,000 times on its first day.
The game’s grid reminds me of Boggle, but instead of making words only with letters that touch, you can use any letter on the board. Sometimes you’ll have lots of vowels and tons of words will spring to your mind, while other times you’ll find yourself struggling to use a z, an x, or a q with no u. All of the letters on the board must be used to end the game. In addition to gaining points for the letters you use, you claim letters as territory. Each player gets a color and your goal is to capture letters with your color and take control of the board. Using a letter shades it a lighter color and means that if your opponent uses this letter in their next turn, they can steal a point from you. Surrounding a letter on all sides with other letters you’ve used turns it a brighter shade of your color and means that your opponent will not get points for that letter if they use it. Continue reading
Title: Flow Free
Platform: iOS and Android
Cost: Free, with additional paid content
Who knew connect the dots could be so compelling? Flow Free is my new favorite addictive puzzle game. It starts out easy on a five by five grid with five colors. You must connect the dots and cover each square on the grid without crossing over paths, or flows, between dots. As you progress through the levels the game becomes increasingly more complicated, adding more dots to connect and more space in the grid to connect them.’ Bright colors on a black background resemble an 80s arcade game, but, unlike most arcade games there is no pressure of a time limit if you don’t want one.’ In free play mode, you can spend as long as you need on each level, and make as many moves as you like. You can even take back all of your moves and start over. The fewer moves you need, the more points you get, and if you solve a level perfectly you’ll get a star. Or you can up the tempo and play against the clock in time trial mode. Continue reading