I’m the kind of person with an iTunes library big enough it has the distorting effect of periodically tricking me into thinking I can make music. Consequently, I spend a couple of weeks twice a year staring vacantly into Reason, occasionally working up the confidence to make some tuneless, arrhythmic noise. When Nanostudio for the iPhone arrived in my inbox I thought I’d found a little music app for the softheaded like myself. Wrong.
Nanostudio is a fully-featured portable production suite, replete with patches, samplers and sequencers.
There’s a brain-melting level of detail packed into the app, with multiple filters included to warp every sample, functional polysonic synths, a drum pad, mixers, and other stuff I can’t even begin to comprehend. Four megabytes worth of samples are included, which is more than enough to make a ruckus, but you’re free to import more. Essentially, for $18, Nanostudio does many of the music production tasks you’d have paid hundreds of dollars to do on a PC a few years ago. It didn’t stop me from being terrible, though.
If Nanostudio is the height of seriously useful app development, NBA JAM, at the other end of the spectrum, is the iPhone’s pinnacle in mindless entertainment.
I’ll be honest; I’m unsure whether NBA JAM ($5.99), one of my favourite apps this week, is actually any good, or whether the nostalgic sensation of being spirited to the arcade circa 1993 triggered a latent gush of adolescent hormones. Either way, it’s as stupid and entertaining as the original.
NBA JAM’s strength over grown-up b-ball games was that it in no way takes itself seriously, a quality that’s unchanged – if accentuated – on the iPhone. Every few seconds we’re regaled with some ridiculous, physics-defying dunk, players catching fire (in a celebratory sort of way) and the commentators lose their cool. The iPhone edition actually amplifies the silliness, giving players totally anatomically incorrect bobble heads, a design decision I strongly support.
EA keeps it simple with gameplay, offering only a couple of buttons for players to mash. Changing players can be a little bit hectic – actually, I’m unsure whether I’ve figured out how to do it properly – but being terrible doesn’t interfere with the spirit of fun.
Otherwise, NBA JAM is as polished a game as I’ve seen on the iPhone, and if you play it in Blockbuster or the milk bar, it’s probably better than it was in ‘93.
Finally, my hands-down favourite app this week is the ABC’s iView (free!) for the iPad. Although technically an oldie, I missed it when it came out in December, and I’m of the mind that it can use another big-up. The great majority of the ABC’s content from both its digital channels is available on demand over the iPad. It’s really easy to navigate, streams without issue and has content I want to stare at for hours – the makings of a classic app. Throw your stinkin’ TVs into the street!