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One Page of Apps: 16 random reviews part 3

[Note: all links to apps go to the App Store]

Freshwater Aquarium - $.99
Freshwater Aquarium is my favorite "simulated pet" application. For one thing, the animation is good (although not 3D and a far cry from perfect as a simulation) and the sound is pleasant. In addition to just watching your fish, however, you can also raise and sell them. By raising fish and selling them, you earn more gold which can be used to unlock fishing and more goodies (food, ornaments, etc.). I found the balance of complexity versus features to be pretty good. Not as simple as a Petz game, but not too difficult for, say, a tween. There's a lot to like in this plucky aquarium sim, and for $.99 you get a lot of value for your money.

Zen Meditate - $.99
Yet another binaural tone app, Zen suffers from vanilla design. The upside is that it's pretty simple to operate, but the downside is that you don't get a lot of information about what you're doing. Audio is sometimes good, as in the meditative sounds, but can get annoying when you try the more "awake" tones. It's a decent app, but I prefer AmbiScience or Binaural Beats for frequent use.


Fish Tycoon - $1.99
I really wanted to like Fish Tycoon, but ultimately it's just a crappy version of everything Freshwater Aquarium does. The animation is terrible, too many interface elements make it hard to use, and the "flow" didn't feel right. That said, there's a lot more to poke around on in Fish Tycoon. You can "research" food, for example. You can buy and sell fish, and fish continue to grow when you're not playing (sort of how Animal Crossing works). But the interface, while pretty in spots, just didn't do it for me. And since you really just want to look at fish swim around, I can't overlook the jerky animation and low-res graphics. Freshwater's animation isn't perfect, but it's better than this. Note: I tried the Lite version, but the link goes to the paid version.

Touch Hockey - $1.99
I only have the Lite version (link goes to paid version), but the game is the same: air hockey! You click to move your disc around, hitting the puck. You can play with another person over WiFi, although I didn't try that. What I can say about this app is that it faithfully reproduces the experience of playing air hockey on your mobile device. In fact, it's been carefully designed to not "go nuts" with speed considering the small screen size. This makes it playable and fun to watch. One bonus: instant replay. The view zooms in on the winning move each time you score a point. There are lots of other nice touches, which I've come to expect from FlipSide5, who have been making some very nice games for the platform.

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