Developer: Magnetism Studios
Requirements: iPhone 2.0 software
Compatibility: iPhone and iPod Touch
File Size: 4.1MB
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Yes, I used to read Choose Your Own Adventure books. Of course I did. I was in grade school when the series launched, so I was there at the right time. And although I used to own quite a few of them, I have no idea where they ended up. The attic at my parents’ house? A garage sale? Donated to a fund raiser? I’d like to have them back, because I think they’d be fun to read to my own kids now. Assuming that’ll never happen, I guess my iPhone will suffice.
Magnetism Studios has released the Return to Atlantis Choose Your Own Adventure book for the iPhone, and they’ve done so faithfully. The original cover remains. The illustrations remain. Even the “This book is different from other books” warning remains. Fans of the series will be thrilled, but what about everyone else? If you’ve never chosen your adventure, is this book worthy of your App Store dollars? Well, in the spirt of things, I’ll let you choose.
Return to Atlantis doesn’t actually let you choose your adventure, but rather lets you choose your path through the adventure. The story starts out like any other, except you’ll notice it’s told from the rarely used second-person point-of-view. The book often refers to you, the reader, because you’re a character in the story. You’re presented with various situations within the story, then asked to make a decision. “If you…”, turn to page X; “If you…”, turn to page Y. Some decisions will end your story right there (and not always in a pleasant way), others will keep the adventure alive. As a grade school kid, this fascinated me, and I would read through the books countless times to see all the possible outcomes. I suppose this isn’t such a fascinating idea these days, considering many video games provide multiple outcomes based on your actions and decisions, but such features just feel more unique and personal in book form.
So, the book itself is a lot of fun, but how does it work on the iPhone? Well, you lose the feel of having the book in your hand, of course, which will turn off everyone outside of the Kindle crowd. But I have to admit the electronic version does make the whole thing work a bit better. Tap your choice, and you’re automatically taken to the page you want. In other words, no cheating. You can’t accidentally skim a better ending and its page number on your way to the page you need, then reverse engineer your way to that ending upon your next read. So, the whole “choosing” bit (kind of important, you know) is a perfect match for the iPhone.
The display is nice, with dark grey text set against an off-white background. It creates the feel of an old, slightly yellowed paperback, which I assume was a design decision. You scroll down to read all the text on a page, then tap to either advance to the next page or to make your choice, where appropriate. I’m not sure why they decided to make you tap to turn a page instead of just putting everything on one page until you have to select your path, unless they’re just going for the accurate recreation. Indeed, the choices still say to “… turn to page X” even though pages are pretty much irrelevant in digital form.
You can stop reading at any point and your place will be remembered, but you can also choose to start again from the beginning upon returning. A bookmarks button will remember multiple locations (tap the bookmark button at any time, then tap the plus symbol, and your location is saved), and you can skim back and forth through what you’ve read via arrow buttons on the bottom of the screen. My favorite option, though, allows you to reverse the page so you’re reading white text on a dark background (great if you’re reading with the lights out). You can also enlarge the font (two total settings) if the default text is too small.
Choose Your Own Adventure fans will greatly enjoy this app, doubly so since the Journey Under the Sea book is thrown in as a bonus. The developers have gone a great job of not only recreating the experience of this series, but also the experience of just reading a book. No, the iPhone cannot replace an actual book, but it works better as an electronic reading device than you may think, and you won’t have to worry about creasing the spine.