May 252011
iOS game: Chinese Characters Fly

This game has two variants that are played essentially the same. In both, Chinese characters float randomly onto the screen and across it until you tap and drag them to a location. You can let the character sit there until an appropriate match comes along (what matches will depend on the variants; see below). When it does, you drag the matching characters on top of each other, after which they disappear. If incorrect characters touch (whether because you made a mistake or because they simply drifted into each other), you lose a life. In one variant, you try to match traditional characters with their simplified counterparts. This is a fun exercise if you are trying to learn both types. In the second variant, you choose to play with either simplified or traditional characters. The difference is that the floating characters are radicals and you have to combine them to make a different … [read more]

Apr 252011
iOS game: Chinese Writer

From the people comes a new iOS game where you score by writing characters quickly with correct stroke order. A character will fall from the top of the screen, you tap it to freeze it in the middle of the screen, then you trace over it with correct stroke order as fast as you can. If you make wrong strokes, you get a “wrong” indicator but can keep trying up to the time limit for the word. Fast writing (很快!) will get you double points; really fast (非常快!) will get you triple. Note: this is not to be confused with the app Chinese Writer by the folks at Popup Chinese, which is a nice, free tutorial-style intro to the rules of stroke order. Pros: The app shows the pinyin and an English definition for each character. Due to the speed of the game, you’re not likely to learn totally new characters while … [read more]

Apr 132011
iOS game: ICQuiz

ICQuiz is a matching quiz with several variations (actually called “Games” in app). Vocabulary is divided into six levels; it is unclear what the basis for those is (蝨 / 虱 shī ‘louse’ is level 2?!) and there is no way to see a list of the words in each level. In one variant, you match six English definitions with the appropriate characters (either traditional or simplified) by dragging the characters. You can change your mind as often as you want. You tap a check icon to learn which you got right. If you missed any, you can re-arrange and then check again. Other variants can test you on matching either pinyin or zhuyin with characters (your choice of traditional or simplified). There are a couple of ways to play the match-character-with-transliteration variants. I say “play” because one way works essentially like a timed game of “Concentration” (aka “Memory”): there is a grid of face-down “cards” and … [read more]

Apr 032011
iPad game: RollingZilla

Since I find the online version of RollingZilla (see my review in this blog post) quite addictive, I was happy that I could finally get the iPad version working after the 4.3 update came along. Gameplay on the iPad is somewhat different. There are two modes, one of which is very like the web-based RollingZilla (again, see the earlier review); the other is a multiple choice variant.  The multiple choice variant is a good innovation given that one of my comments about the web game was one’s score was too dependent on typing speed. On the iPad, where most people cannot type as fast as on a full-sized physical keyboard, slow typing has an even greater effect. Another significant difference between this and the web version is that each word that appears in the little Zilla’s thought bubbles is also printed larger in a box at the bottom center of … [read more]

Mar 072011
iOS game: Language LianLianKan

Language LianLianKan is a matching game. You pick two languages (presumably one you know and one you’re learning). When the game starts, two blocks fall from the top of the screen, each with a word in one of the languages. The idea is to click the corresponding words in each language (‘flower’ and 花, for example). The odd thing is, the pairs of falling blocks are already matched up. So ‘flower’ and 花 fall at the same time. And so on. All you have to do is click each pair as they fall. You can do it without knowing what either word means. The game is harder if you deliberately wait and wait until the blocks pile up some, but that takes a while. Even when I accidentally clicked an intrusive iAd and had to close it to get back to the game, only two pairs had piled up. And if you wait too long, … [read more]