Thursday, April 14, 2011

Trivia phenom You Don’t Know Jack leads our iPad Games of the Week

In the mid-1990s, Jellyvision’s irreverent and crazy-entertaining You Don’t Know Jack trivia game took the Mac/PC world by storm. Originally delivered in several topical flavors on old school CD-ROMs, the animated, pop culture trivia questions delivered with twisted, semi-adult humor laced throughout always added up to a fun 15-20 minute game, either alone or with friends. Now the game makes its triumphant return to our modern Apple tablets, and not a moment too soon. We could all use a laugh this week, no?

The remainder of our iPad games of the week are focused on young gamers and physics puzzle lovers. Smart Pet HD brings the “adopt and play with your own virtual dog” to your iPad’s generous screen, while Bug Village will challenge your youngest to build, maintain, and decorate their own virtual bug habitat. Finally, Drop The Chicken brings a Cut The Rope experience to an all-new physics puzzler.

Read all of my Apple iPad and Google Android application reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech.


You Don’t Know Jack HD
A full 20 episodes of insane pop culture trivia laced with bombastic (mostly adult) humor. It’s a Jack Attack worth buying.

Smart Pet HD Light
“Daddy, can we get a dog?” Sure! This virtual pet adoption app gives kids all the fun of interacting with a puppy, without all the mess or expense of the real thing. BARK!

Bug Village
Challenges kids to build, maintain, and decorate their own virtual bug habitat. It’s colorful, fun, and family-friendly.

Drop The Chicken: Training
It’s Cut the Rope, minus the pesky rope parts! An instant-buy for every physics puzzle fan with a iOS device.


You Don’t Know Jack HD ($4.99)

My first round of the resurrected YDKJ trivia game kicked off with this question: “How many human bones would two and a half men actually have?” The correct answer: 515. The wise-cracking game show host’s response when I got it right? “The real question is Charlie Sheen’s mistresses. How many bones are in them?”

And that, ladies and gentlemen is pretty much all you need to know about this must-have offering. After playing through the CD-ROM originals in the ‘90s, I was totally jazzed to see this animated, pop culture treat coming back for more in the ‘10s. It’s silly-fun trivia questions delivered with just the right amount of twisted, semi-adult humor. (Anyone else still find themselves saying “ELEVEN!” with that irreverent crowd-chanting tone? Just me?)

There are 20 full episodes to digest, Game Center achievements and leaderboards, plus the usual litany of question types: DisorDats, Jack Attacks, multiple choice queries, Who’s the Dummy?, Funky Trash, and the always-amazing Cookie’s Fortune Cookie Fortunes with Cookie “Fortune Cookie” Masterson. Yes, it’s a must-buy. (Winning!)

Smart Pet HD Light (FREE)

Between my son and his friends, I’ll bet five litters of virtual puppies have been chosen, loved, fed, played with, and then abandoned through the power of the Nintendo DS. Now it’s the iPad’s turn.

Smart Pet HD lets you adopt a puppy into the huge virtual kennel that is your iPad, then touch him, train him, put on outfits, play with interactive dog toys, feed and clean him, and play a mini-game to earn money to buy items. The light version gives you just the right amount of dogs to pick from (two) and toys to play with to decide if the $.99 full version is worth it. While the graphics aren’t as sharp as some of the latest DS versions, there’s more than enough detail and gameplay here to satisfy the most dog-crazed child under 8. Now, if I could just get my iPad out of the hands of my 9-year-old… You see, Maverick is hungry, and that’s all my son can think about right now!

Bug Village (FREE)

Why, hello there little red ant. Of course I can help you build a new bug village for you and your friends! Let’s get started.

And with that, an entire hour was spent doing just that. Glu is no slouch when it comes to making addictive mobile games, and Bug Village has all the elements needed to spring it into the top free games listing in a hurry. The graphics are top-notch, placing new buildings is a breeze, and the sheer variety of missions to take on and items to purchase and place make for a solid experience all around.

Separating the “food” and gathering area from the village itself is a nice touch. In-game ads are there but not intrusive, and you will likely run up against the old “buy more coins to keep going FASTER” wall after a while. With a little patience, there’s no reason to hand over any real-world money. But no doubt the die-hard fans of this kind of game will fork over $5-$10 to super charge their villages.

Drop The Chicken: Training (FREE)

If you love Cut the Rope, you’ll enjoy Drop The Chicken. The free training app will get you in the spirit, and fast. Basically, there’s a cute chicken at the top of your screen who needs to make it down (be dropped!) into his nest below.

You’ll need to eat the bugs on the screen as you fall and bounce, and arrange the scene to ensure his drop into the soft hay after his tumble. It’s a tried and true physics puzzler, adding some new elements to the mix. Sure there are trampolines at various angles that you can drag around the screen to control his fall, but there are also blocks of wood to drag into place to stop him cold in his tracks.

So there’s no rope cutting or bird-launching (think Angry Birds), but there are critical moments to drop your feathered friend, and some crazy levels that require you to move the elements more than once. Concentrate on getting all the bugs during a single drop, and be sure to concentrate, as you may need to move items into position several times in a row to get the perfect path. It’s one part frustration, and one part fun, just like always!

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