Weird + Small App Reviews: Cupid, Cat Music, Non-Cat Music, and More
As App Store releases have continued to appear at a crazy pace, iLounge’s editors have seen our e-mail boxes flooded with news about apps that don’t fit into the categories we normally consider worthy of coverage: for instance, ones that have been made for a specific holiday, or just do one sort of weird little thing, or are basically completely insane. These are apps that generally aren’t worthy of more detailed reviews in our Gems columns, but struck us as worth telling you about anyway.
So today, we’re launching a new series called Weird + Small App Reviews as a companion to our longer reviews of games and useful applications. Whenever a developer sends us a promotional code for an app, we’ll consider it for Gems or this series, and use both features to bring you the most interesting new apps each week. Ratings are simplified but consistent with our earlier app reviews: apps will fall into the A category if they’re great—ones we’d purchase ourselves—B if they’re good enough to recommend to some readers, C if they’re okay but not recommendable, D if they’re demo-quality bad overall, and F if they’re truly pitiful. This week’s picks include three odd little music apps, a Valentine’s Day game, and two other titles that fall into the “entertain yourself for a buck or two” category.
Our favorite small app of the week is Cupid’s Flick ($2) by staticPhobia, a simple but legitimately interesting little game designed as a Valentine’s Day treat. Cupid sits on the bottom left of the screen with a limited quiver of arrows, and a puzzle-like matrix of hearts, stars, blocks, and extra arrows fills most of the rest of the screen. You have to flick arrows with your finger from left to right, adjusting your shots in angle and speed to remove a certain percentage of the on-screen items for each stage. Arrows pass through anything except for blocks, which are sometimes used to make the gathering of items more difficult. Though Cupid’s Flick uses a wonky, repeating single song for its soundtrack, has little animation except for scaling effects on the items you hit, and doesn’t have a lot of depth, it is legitimately fun, challenging, and cute. Eighty-eight levels are currently offered, with more promised through updates. It’s a cheap and worthwhile little Valentine’s Day gift for someone you know with an iPod touch or iPhone. iLounge Rating: B+.
“Crazy” is the word that comes to mind for the next two titles this week: first up is Cat Piano ($1) by George Talusan. As the name suggests, it turns your iPhone or iPod touch into a miniature piano that’s apparently stuffed with strung-up cats, ranging from the always pleasant “Asthma Kitty” to “Furious,” “Forlorn,” and “Meow Mix” options, plus the sweet “Angelic Meow.” There’s also a standard grand piano sound effect for those who tire of the meowing noises, which are not going to surprise anyone, including dogs, with their realism. One of our dogs actually slept through our plunking of the keys; the other one lifted his head but didn’t get riled up. There’s apparently some secret mode in the piano, too, but we didn’t want to spend whatever little time it would take to find it. iLounge Rating: C.
Singing Cat ($1) by Frnk, which will be appearing in the App Store on the 16th, is an even less impressive take on the same theme. There’s an awfully animated picture of a cat with a bunch of paw-shaped piano keys on the bottom of the screen, with only one digitized cat meow played at different pitches. It wouldn’t have even been worthy of featuring here, other than as a comparison with Cat Piano—we’d call it insane if it wasn’t such an obvious and mediocre cash grab. iLounge Rating: F.
A more useful music app is Air Guitar ($2) by Inedible Software. Here, the idea is to transform your device into a miniature electric guitar that’s controlled mostly via accelerometer judgments of your arm motions: you press a key on the screen, wave your arm, and twist your wrist for a whammy sound. The harder you “strum” the guitar with your arm motions, the louder it plays, and a settings screen lets you change keys, select two guitar types, and activate an advanced mode with more sophisticated playing options. Only one thing is a little tricky: unless you’re holding a finger on the screen, Air Guitar requires you to hold the iPod touch or iPhone horizontally to keep playing, and switches back to an instruction page when the orientation flips to vertical. Just keep a finger on the screen and you can keep rocking out with abandon. iLounge Rating: B.
The last two apps this week are ones that really can’t be understood as anything other than time-passers with interesting artwork. Distant Shore ($1) is The Blimp Pilots’ follow up of sorts to Koi Pond, a simple 2-D title where users could look at and interact mildly with koi, oversized goldfish, and their surrounding lilypads. Koi Pond was developed with a zen-like approach to its utility: like its namesake, it was there to calm, not to have much else of a purpose. Distant Shore continues the theme with better graphics. You are given an overhead view of a beach that has been subtly rendered in 3-D, without any character artwork: you swipe to move left and right on the beach, leaving footprints as you “walk.” The goal is to discover and send messages in bottles; you find messages written by other users, and with every five shells you find on the beach, you can write and send a message yourself. It’s not especially compelling, particularly given that the messages we’ve seen are boring, but the seed of a good idea is here: you can respond to such questions as “I like rap music u?,” if you’re looking to make random, anonymous friends, which would have been neat as a slightly more sophisticated tool for social networking. In its current form, some people may enjoy watching the waves gently roll in, the seagulls flying overhead, and the changing time of day coloration. iLounge Rating: B-.
By comparison, Year of the Ox ($1) by Magenta Studio is a more interesting little title, but it’s still sort of off. In celebration of the Chinese New Year, you control a walking ox trapped inside of a fenced off parcel of land, with stands set up for a simple game, a fireworks display, and a high scores list. Move the ox to the game and hundreds of rats appear, forcing you to jump on or stampede them to break your previous time record. The fireworks display lets you pick from four types of fireworks to shoot off with accompanying sound effects. Both the game and the fireworks are noteworthy because they take place within a realistic-looking 3-D environment, complete with nice colors, animations, lighting and shadowing, but they feel sort of pointless and empty. Had the game or the fireworks been more completely implemented, we would have felt this title worthy of including in Gems, but as is, Year of the Ox feels like a rushed-together tech demo with some well above average special effects. Hopefully the developers will apply their visual talents to something more compelling going forward. iLounge Rating: C.
- iOS Gems: A&E Apps, Google Maps, GTA: Vice City, Kindergarten Reading + Rounds: Parker Penguin
- iOS Gems: Angry Birds Star Wars, Modern Combat 4, Real Boxing, Winnie the Pooh + More
- iOS Gems: Animal SnApp, Crazy Taxi, Need for Speed Most Wanted, NBA 2K13 + Zaxxon Escape
- iOS Gems: Bad Piggies, FIFA 13, Rayman Jungle Run, Street Fighter x Tekken Mobile + The Room
- iOS Gems: Blast-A-Way, iTunes Festival London 2012, Splice, Wild Blood + YouTube
- iOS Gems: Avengers Initiative, Little Masters + Wipeout
If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods/iPhones/iPad or accessories, or if you sell or market iPod/iPhone/iPad products or services, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators.
- Congress passes bill to legalize phone unlocking
- Bose sues Beats over noise-canceling patents
- iLounge Game Spotlight: Modern Combat 5: Blackout
- Apps of the Week: ShipAntics, Modern Combat 5, This American Life 3.0 + more
- Report: Apple could launch own mobile wallet this fall
- Report: Apple ‘tentatively’ plans mid-September iPhone event
- Apple faces class action suit in California for labor violations
- Apple, AT&T now sending $40 checks to some iPad 3G owners
- Apple denies iOS “back door” access in new report
- Notes from Apple’s Q3 2014 earnings call
- Incipio offGRID Smart Bluetooth Low Energy-Enabled Portable 6000mAh Backup Battery
- Divoom Voombox Travel Rugged Portable Wireless Speaker
- Logitech protection+ for iPhone 5/5s and +trip
- Beats Powerbeats2 Wireless
- Incipio Steno Ultra-Thin Bluetooth Keyboard Folio for iPad Air
- OtterBox Resurgence Power Case for iPhone 5/5s
- Gumdrop Cases FoamTech Case for iPad Air
- Ztylus Camera Case + RV-2 Revolver Lens for iPhone 5/5s
- JBL Synchros Reflect In-Ear Sport Headphones
- JBL Synchros E50BT Over-Ear Headphones
- What’s New in iTunes 12
- iLounge Picks: Five Great Summer Party Speakers
- Editorial: Endings And Beginnings
- Live From CE Week 2014: Brand New iPad, iPhone + Mac Accessories!
- What’s New In iOS 8 For iPad, iPhone + iPod touch
- iLounge Multi-Editorial: WWDC 2014’s iOS 8, OS X Yosemite + More
- The Complete Guide to Apple TV Channels
- iHistory: From iPod + iTunes to iPhone, Apple TV + iPad, 2001 to 2010
- iHistory: From iPod + iTunes to iPhone, Apple TV + iPad: 2011 to Today
- Viewing only downloaded iTunes Match tracks