So we here at IhoGeek love apps. All sorts of apps. Touchy flashy screen pressing apps.
I’ve been keeping tabs with some apps particularly for kids from Famloop, a relatively new children’s reading and game app company for Ipad and Apple products founded in 2011 from a team of original Google employees. In their relative short existence they’ve put out quite a number of fun and engaging interactive reading apps for kids including a series of beautifully illustrated and adequately fun adaptations of the classic Punky Dunk the Kitten series which my own seven year old cousin enjoys quite a bit and a second app called “Agent Magic” a talking detective mouse who revisits the Punky Dunk stories and adds extra interactive elements good for helping kids learn and practice small observation and motor skills. My cousin enjoys them and we’ve played them quite a few times when I’ve babysat. They also have a really fun take on the Wizard of Oz with the first of a series called “Oz Tales”, an app which features a blonde (like the book!) Dorothy that utilizes some great voice interactive elements.
Now most of these offerings are for older kids, in the 5-9 range. Famloop has now partnered with DK Publishing to produce interactive flap book aps for tots. The new read-along titles; adaptations of Sophie la Girafe® Colors and Peekaboo! Woof! Woof! Joining other Sophie aps and interactive Peekaboo! books.
These colorful, simple titles are great for wee people and Timelords ages 0-3 alike help develop vocabulary, coordination and identification. You follow Sophie as you learn all her friend’s favorite colors and be entertained by the new ways digitized animation can bring to a book.
I think the blending of mediums really work well and the use of digital e-readers for “flap” books actually increases what you can do with your kid as it offers more puzzles like the pieced apart lil dino above along with traditional “check underneath” interaction.
A quick little blurb for some quick and cute little books. If you know someone who has a kid check these out, let us know what you think of them!
My one complaint which has been brought to my attention; they unfortunately don’t seem to have Android support or apps; something I am keen to personally inquire about. OS exclusion isn’t fun! Like teaching kids developers should learn to play fair!
Have a great week!
Staff Writer/The Doctor
I’m going to throw a tantrum if people don’t watch Kyousougiga.
I reviewed Kyousougiga a few weeks ago; now six episodes and halfway through the season later I’m still head over heels with it, but am baffled at why it is not catching on as much as I would like. It seems to be simmering under the radar and I really, really would like to change that. In my opinion it’s one of if not the best anime that has made a “Fall” debut in what is considered a generally “strong” season this year. And it disappoints me to see something bursting with creativity not getting the attention it should be getting.
Therefore here is a second set of points and arguments for you on why you should watch it aka why-you-need- to-watch-it-so-Max-stops-complaining-thanks-and-goodbye:
– Gorgeous animation ranging from subtle to overt graphic styling and effects and great use of CG; there is occasional “pop” styling for more energetic scenes and comedy but otherwise it is rather lush with well thought-out color palettes and lighting for more serious and poignant scenes. The animators like to show off. A LOT. Lighting and seasonal depictions, particularly snow, are well done and frequent. Very cinematic with elements of mono no aware it’s a bit slower than most anime and features some rather spectacular composition and framing as well as unique camera angles, camera wobbles and use of space. It’s more “mature” than your average anime even some of the very glossy ones this fall season if that makes any sense. Fight scenes too are impeccably choreographed.
– Awesome symbolism, mostly Buddhist and Shinto philosophies, Japanese (and perhaps a dash of Greek) myth and folklore as well as heavy floral and fruit symbolism. It also carries literary influence from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland/ Through The Looking Glass. While most series who attempt the Wonderland (or rather more so in this case Through the Looking Glass) inspiration or adaptation; Kyousougiga is unique in that it handles it extremely subtly instead of so on the nose as most tend to do.
– It’s a non-moe and generally fan-service free series with well rounded characters. I actually don’t like a lot of anime anymore purely because the characters are too klutsy, too air-headed, or too inept all in the sake of being cute. It works in Nichijou but that is so heavily slapstick it makes sense. I otherwise like having some degree of range. For instance characters in the current fall favorite Kyoukai no Kanata, the leads are somewhat characterized by their weird quirks and fetishes, it’s all sort of a turn off for me. They feel somewhat, stunted for lack of a better term; something off that stops them from feeling organic or as round as they should. They “feel” like anime. Here, the characters feel more organic. The teenage lead Koto is tomboyish, nonsexualized and acts like a real teenager for the most part with shades of Haruko from FLCL. This goes for all of the characters; most have very round characterization with some pretty deep and serious themes and fall short of stepping over that line of tropes that most series take which oversimplify people into caricature.
– Jigsaw-plot storytelling. This MAY be why people aren’t giving it a chance but I think this is why it is so great. It takes its sweet time to develop characters and reveals plot and back story in an advent calender style manner. This series starts at their 0 episode in media res with a FLCL Gainax-esque mind-screw of an episode that ends with the return of the character Lady Koto to the Mirror World. So far as of episode 6 each subsequent episode has not taken place past the ending to 0. They’ve been mostly nonconsecutive (though some parts are chronological) back story, flashbacks to incidents that came before or led up to that moment, or revisiting moments from 0 episode with a slightly altered perspective or less abstract manner, often showing more details not previously shown before or flat out showing something different. Essentially it’s a “How we got here” approach. While confusing at times things do rather neatly fall into place as things are explained and motifs seen before but not really touched on suddenly have meaning and that add further depth to the series as a whole. The repetition of certain scenes also adds a certain stylistic rhythm that I find interesting. When we move on past the ending of episode 0 I feel the series energy will really pump up with even more action.
– Amazing writing. The plot is fresh and different than the norm and while it adheres to tropes it avoids a lot of common ones anime series can slather onto characters (coughKyoukai no Kanatacough). Family and what constitutes family is a big component and there are some actual pretty dark elements despite its occasional manicness. And yet the balance of comedy, general heartfelt exposition and then action against really heavy themes, is all really well done. As said before all the characters are very relatable and interesting; very round and weighty but that doesn’t mean they aren’t ridiculous either. Also as stated its inspiration from Lewis Carroll is done very subtly. Also, before I forget one little thing. YOU WILL CRY. This series is highly emotional especially if parent-child relationships strike a chord with you. And siblings. And just….everything. It’s very very touching and just beautifully done.
Just everything about it is really well done. So this is my second appeal. Watch this series, halfway through it’s still good and not losing steam. It’s totally free up over at Crunchyroll and entirely worth your time (and tears).
See you guys real soon!
This post apparently didn’t make it out on its intended date (Halloween). Whoops! Watch me delve into the highly anticipated Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs. Will it live in the shadow of its predecessor or send me wee wee weeing all the way home?Please enter the url to a YouTube video.
And what would Ace Attorney be without some strange new gimmick to get at the truth? For Phoenix it was Maya’s magatama which showed the locks on peoples’ hearts formed by their lies. Apollo had a bracelet that let him know when someone was lying, allowing him to perceive their tells. Now Athena has a computer system named Widget which can analyze audio patterns in a person’s voice for their emotions. When you see a strange reaction to a particular statement, you press on it and eventually clear up their testimony by reducing the discord in their heart. I like the system more than Apollo’s if only because it has more of a pseudoscience explanation behind it. It was kind of hard to swallow a magic bracelet that tightened when people lied. The magatama isn’t much more plausible, but at least it was given to Phoenix by a spirit medium; the bracelet is from Apollo’s mom who’s a decidedly non-magical <SPOILER>.
The art in the new game is phenomenal in comparison to previous titles. Never before has there been an Ace Attorney game with 3D character models, but all the characters made the transition well. Everyone looks great static, but even better when animated since there’s actual movement and not just jumping pixels. The art style is about as close to the original pixelated style as they could get and it comes off great. And fully animated and voiced cutscenes are also spliced throughout the game to convey story when the character animations won’t cut it. The music is also impeccable, meeting a relatively high standard from fans of a soundtrack that fits the drama of the court. All Ace Attorney soundtracks can be measured by their take on Pursuit Cornered, the track that plays when you’ve got the crook on the ropes, and AA5 holds up well. Nothing beats Ace Attorney 2’s version, but 5 gets close. (Quick side note, I just checked a poll on GameFAQs and it turns out most people most people
disagree with me are wrong.)
Hearts. It’s one of the few series I support in every form I can. From figures to shirts to imported movies to the musicals and beyond, I’m a fan to my core. Though that usually bodes well for a series, this case is a hard one. After being scorned for so long from Capcom, this game had to not only meet the standard, but exceed it just to get a passing mark. Luckily, they did just that with wonderfully updated graphics, a quirky new investigation system, overhauling the frustrating parts, and bringing back characters we love without destroying the wacky continuity we’ve also grown fond of. If you’re new to the series, you may want to go back and play the first few games before getting started on this one (or at least Ace Attorney 4), but if you’re a fan of the series wondering if it’s worth the hype – it is. It so is. Trust me, once you nail your first ne’er-do-well in a lie and this song comes on, you’ll agree.
It’s been three and a half years since the release of Heavy Rain, Quantic Dream’s murder mystery experience on PS3. Since then, the company has been a go-to source for the latest in emotional storytelling visuals, including last year’s tech demo Kara. It’s with much anticipation that the company’s next game, Beyond: Two Souls, is released. Is it truly the next evolution of interactive storytelling, or has Quantic Dream pushed the medium in an undesirable direction?
|And here we have Aiden killing a guy. Neato.|
The story of Beyond: Two Souls is as wide reaching as it is interesting. Following Jodie’s interactions with the government, people she meets, and situations she finds herself in with her spirit to help her, the game explores the idea of what it means to be truly dissimilar to everyone else. The way Quantic Dream handled Aiden’s character was also impressive in that he has no lines of dialogue, but you really care about your unseen protector. By having Jodie interact with Aiden and seeing his motivations through his action, you’re able to piece together a rather detailed feeling about who this spirit is even if you’re not really sure what it is.
|Why is she not sunburnt if she’s been walking in the desert for days?|
The story is engrossing a large portion of the time, but many moments exist in its storytelling in which I’m reminded less of a blockbuster film and more of a SciFi original movie. This steep decline in believability happens rarely, but it is enough to suck you out of the moments the game worked so hard to create. Some of these happen because of choices you have when exploring or the controls, but most of them are because the game felt like parts of it were removed or dots that weren’t connected needed to be out of necessity. For example, you get trained to be a covert agent, but only use the skill twice, once for a very small portion of time. Why even dedicate an hour to that in the game when you could get the same message across in less time? Also, certain characters make rather dramatic changes in their personality in the last bit of the game, seemingly out of nowhere. Almost as if the game had a number of endings, but they could not pick just one. Though Beyond: Two Souls’ story overall is interesting and more thought provoking that its spiritual predecessor, it doesn’t feel as high quality as Heavy Rain.
|You’ve got something on your face. Let me get it.|
Two notably large names have been attached to this project – Ellen Paige and Willem Defoe. Hands down, these two deliver solid performances throughout the entirety of the game, and seeing them interact with one another adds richness to the story. Their relationship is one of the most human and believable ones of the game and seeing the characters brought to life through them is great. The only bad thing about this collaboration is that though performances this high quality are rare, they do exist, and when they do you believe the character more because you cannot put a face, backstory, or previous context to them. When I look at Booker DeWitt and Joel from The Last of Us, I have no idea what Troy Baker looks like and I didn’t even know he portrayed both until I looked it up. In contrast, anytime Jodie Holmes and Nathan Dawkins interact, somewhere in your mind, you can easily imagine Juno and Norman Osborne just based off of the visuals. This unfortunate disconnect isn’t nearly as distracting as this paragraph length may believe you to be, but it is something to note.
|Homeless Jodie is my favorite. Her chapped lips are such a nice touch|
The gameplay is almost identical to Heavy Rain with quick-time events driving high-intensity parts of the game and the right joystick lets you interact with things during the exploration parts.Interacting with your environment often worked well, but felt clunky at times. When walking around, getting around objects was often a chore because of camera angles and when bumping into walls or just wanting to turn around quickly, the immersion was broken by how sluggish the controls could feel when you wanted quick, precise movements. Sometimes, the game would even stop altogether for a second as if it hadn’t quite loaded everything and needed just a second more to catch up, another annoyance that broke immersion. Another frustrating aspect of the controls came during quick time events. When time slowed down in a scene, it’s your cue to use the right joystick to make Jodie interact with her environment. Though the tutorial says to push the joystick in the direction Jodie’s body is moving, often times that direction isn’t clear and resulted in our protagonist getting in far more scrapes than she should have. Also, there’s an incredibly tacked on 2 player mode in which one person controls Aiden, but you can only switch controls between people when pressing a button, resulting in a subpar, frustrating experience for both parties. Just keep it single player, Quantic Dream.
Ever since Carol Danvers took the Captain Marvel mantle, the Ms. Marvel mantle she left behind has been empty. But no more, as part of Marvel’s “All-New Marvel NOW!” promotional and editorial initiative (more or less a prolonged soft reboot to their main universe) the Ms. Marvel mantle will be filled next shortly into the new year with the debut of a new Ms. Marvel title book. The titular heroine taking up the mantle will be new superhero Kamala Khan, a teenage Muslim Pakistani-American shape-shifter from Jew Jersey.
Coming February 2014 it will be written by G. Willow Wilson, (Air, Mystic, Vixen: Return of The Lion, Alif the Unseen) and illustrated by Adrian Alphona (Runaways, Uncanny X-Force).
Wilson is notable for being of the Muslim faith and is one of if not the most prominent Muslimah writer in monthly comics. She too, hails from New Jersey. The appointment of Wilson to the title is more or less a marriage made in heaven and follows a pattern Marvel seems to be making by appointing writers with the actual experience and know-how that correlate to the characters they are writing. This follows in the steps of appointing writer Charles Soule (Swamp Thing, Thunderbolts, Strongman) a comic writer and attorney (whodathunk) to write Jennifer Walters, the green powerhouse also known as She-Hulk who also is an active lawyer for a new solo title also returning next year.
Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk will be additionally joined by brand new female lead solo books new year for Black Widow, and Elektra. This added with the ongoing success of Brain Wood’s starring all female X-Men flagship title and a “second season” of Captain Marvel seems to reiterate that Marvel is truly making the effort to diversify and push their female heroes as well as taking risks. Their adoption or experiment with “seasons” for titles such as Young Avengers is a curious invention that is something to be watched. It is possibly a great way to keep titles fresh especially in the highly unstable and fickle comic buying market which will no doubt be changing greatly in the next five to ten years anyway. Additionally the appointment of more and more modern and stylized artists (who thankfully know how teenagers dress or just know fashion period) and a more sophisticated mod “house” aesthetic ushered in by the popular Hawkeye title have additionally made many of Marvel’s new offerings and cover art in particular very fresh, hip, and surprisingly experimental.
Marvel’s not perfect, but with their certain choices they seem to be at the least, aware of criticism of the medium and are making strides to rectify it. You’d think DC would notice by now what they’re doing (an Hourman TV show? Really?) is exactly the opposite of what they should be doing.
Now about Marvel’s 10000 Tony Stark and Wolverine books….