From my weekly reviews on Newstalk 1010’s Moore In The Morning, here’s my app picks for movie lovers, web researchers, and puzzle masters.
MovieCat is a pub-styled trivia game in which players have nine lives to survive through five rounds of interactive movie quizzes. You’re asked to identify Hollywood movies, actors, directors, and Oscar winners through a wide variety of touchscreen games involving speech bubbles, costumes, posters, and clue cards.
Yes, it features cats re-enacting movie scenes, but it’s done with a subtle, visual wit that speaks to a culture that celebrates gangsters, action heroes, and crazy fools. It’s clear that a great deal of hard work has gone into the trivia to make sure it sticks to the general knowledge of Hollywood while exploring a gamut of tastes from chick flicks and comedies to action movies and horror. Touched with some light, funky music and the occasional cartoon caterwaul, MovieCat is thoroughly enjoyable.
With more than 11 million users at last count, Pinterest has become the fastest growing social network in history. It combines the act of using the internet to research a chosen topic with the visual dynamic of creating a scrapbook. When users come across an item of interest they “pin” a photo or video of it to a virtual board. In this way they grow entire collections of pinned items built around themes.
Each “pinned” item stores a link back to its original web page, making Pinterest collections useful for those researching personal projects. Some users get really creative with their boards and so there’s the option to “follow” them and watch their collections grow.
It’s a hobby that people tend to turn to when they have down time and so the new iPhone app is designed to let you browse Pinterest collections and even tend to your own while standing in line or waiting at a doctor’s office. Additionally you can use your mobile camera to “pin” items from the real world by snapping a picture and uploading it to your account with GPS data attached. As an app it works well enough to feed your hobby, but the visual nature of Pinterest means it’s a better experience on a laptop with a bigger screen.
The catch with Pinterest is that, while both the app and website are free, you need an invite from an existing user in order to join (you can also request one from their website and hope). If you’re having trouble, send an e-mail with “Pinterest” in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll see what I can do. Another important point is that the service is not supported by ads, but instead generates its revenue through the use of affiliate links added to retail items pinned by its users.
Whether you’re a visual thinker, a collector, or simply a lover of things, Pinterest is a fun hobby to take up.
Clockwork Brain is a collection of puzzles that are designed to sharpen your memory and improve your problem-solving skills. Technically it falls into the Brain Training genre, but without the serious structure you’d find in the Brain Age or Luminosity exercises. These are just fun puzzles that happen to focus on cognitive abilities involving language, arithmetic, memory, and spatial comprehension.
One puzzle challenges you to solve a series of anagrams, another to match objects to fast-moving silhouettes. With just a glance at a wall, you’re expected to work out how many bricks are missing. What sets Clockwork Brain above other puzzle collections is the creative way it increases the difficulty, not by making the puzzles more complex, but by adding twists that force you to think differently.
In one puzzle you’re flashed a set of numbered tiles then asked to tap them out in their proper order. When you reach a higher difficulty level, the game replaces the numbers on the tiles with icons representing the different sides of dice. It’s the same concept, but your mind is forced to re-think it.
With hand-painted, Victorian artwork and a robot mascot, Clockwork Brain has a wonderful sense of craft and atmosphere. Its first set of puzzles are free, with additional packs for purchase at $0.99 each or, by earning high scores, you can also trade in free game tokens for bonus content too.
If you enjoy a good mind-teaser, Clockwork Brain will certainly turn your inner gears in a way that is fun and engaging.