You can’t really buy apps for your Dad on Father’s Day, which is why I played them instead. This week I’m combining balloons and David Mitchell. Ah, but I can link them together! David Mitchell is a comedian. Jack Dee is also a comedian, who stars in BBC sitcom ‘Lead Balloon’ – which has ‘balloon’ in the title. See? Clever.
Up There / 59p / Free Demo
Up There is probably one of the nicest apps I have, and I mean nice as the innocent nice. It’s simple, artistic and damn impossible to complete. Yes, while the game may boast some very nicely drawn visuals, in a continuously changing setting that has you ‘aww’-ing from the beginning, by the time you fail (and you will), you’ll be swearing at this thing like it just kicked you where the sun most definitely does not shine.
Don’t get me wrong, the gameplay in Up There is possibly the simplest I’ve seen in any app out there. You instantly understand what you’re doing as soon as the balloon starts moving. You start with a red balloon trapped in a cage. When the cage opens the balloon escapes, rising upwards to freedom. Its only enemies are the obstacles in its path, and the bottom of the screen. The camera continuously tracks up through the home, and if the balloon falls below the screen it’s game over. You start off tilting the device to control the balloon’s direction through planks of wood through the house. Escape the house, and you’re to pass the branches in the tree. Then the clouds, then the stars. It’s a very good method of switching through ‘levels’, but you’ll always go back to the cage if you fall below the screen.
It’s the music that puts the happy element into the game. The soundtrack is a very peaceful piano, playing a tune that gradually gets more powerful the higher the balloon gets, and you get this sensation of freedom for the balloon, encouraging you to help it keep going. It’s one of those “yeah!” moments once you get part a section of obstacles. It’s what makes the game what it is, and you suddenly feel as though it’s a ‘classic’ app. Something that always needs to stay on your iPod. You’ll get desperate to hear the rest of the song however when you find you keep falling around a certain point. The song starts from the beginning each time you return to the cage, and you’re motivated to get further just to hear the song.
So it’s a love-hate app. This is a must-have app, but whether or not you’ll get annoyed with it or find it a charming little game is down to how easily annoyed you’ll get. You won’t play it for very long at a time, but it’s something you’ll remember every so often when you’re browsing your apps and start up. I’ve never gotten to the end, which may explain my frustration here, but I challenge you to beat me. The furthest I’ve gotten are the clouds. RW.
David Mitchell’s Soapbox / Free
This is David Mitchell. For many of you, that’ll summarise this app straight away. The Soapbox is a collection of online video rants that Michell’s been uploading for a while, all neatly arranged in one app. The app uses embedded YouTube videos, meaning you’ll need an internet connection to make this worthwhile, and from there on in, enjoy the sarcastic, hilarious humour of David Mitchell.
There are a few problems with the app. Some videos aren’t linked properlly and sometimes don’t point to an actual video on YouTube, meaning every few videos will sometimes tell you that they won’t work. But there’s enough here to keep you entertained: Thirty to be exact, all roughly three minutes each. That’s just under an hour and a half of David’s thoughts.
This app could work simply as an audio, or radio podcast. The videos consist of Mitchell’s face and body walking in front of a green screen, with tacky images stamped in the background. But if anything that simply opens up the listening opportunities. You can also choose to download each video in higher quality and watch them from the app. The videos won’t appear in your iPhone or iPod video list, you’ll need to open the app to watch them. You can also delete downloaded videos after watching them too to free up space.
After that, the only downside to the app is the number of rants. There’s not enough. I love the humour of David Mitchell, so that all makes sense. However, if you find this humour utterly mind-numbing, your opinion of this app will very different to my own. RW.