- The Washington Times - Friday, December 3, 2010

Here are reviews of some game applications for Apple’s iPad:

Defender Chronicles HD (Chillingo, $2.99)  The popular tower-defense fantasy game from the iPhone debuts on Apple’s mystical tablet to challenge worthy warriors in a “Lord of the Rings”-style epic.

Defender Chronicles dazzles as players fight against overwhelming odds spread out on beautiful, hand-drawn pathways of Athelia that climb and descend to defendable locations.

Just touch one of the flags scattered strategically throughout the maps and either build a structure to unleash 20 types of units, including archers, swordsmen, mages, berserker infantry, halfling thieves and lizardmen (new to this game) or upgrade a current unit with better firepower.

Building units requires a set amount of gold, which is replenished as swarms of enemies fall. Those accumulating hordes include dragons, banshees, ogres, crystal golems and slimeballs; the latter actually multiply into smaller creatures as they are hit.

Enemies that make it through a gantlet of heroic units ultimately fight a commander, a last line of defense that players are able to power up with skill points and purchased armor and weaponry.

Winning means not allowing dozens of waves of fantasy creatures to overrun the commander at each location. Specifically, if a set number (around 30, depending on the level’s difficulty) get past him, it spells defeat.

Points awarded for victory also can be used to buy enemy bestiaries, new music soundtracks, comic-book pages (to further reveal the story) or special units.

Furthermore, welcomed replayability highlights include fighting through all of the quests twice, led by the brawny General or sorceress Melwen, and custom modes such as playing a classic or extended version of the battles.

With four levels of difficulty, the game should appeal to real-time strategists of all ages.

The most mesmerizing portion of the action is listening to an adviser doing a cheesy impersonation of “Saturday Night Live’s” Darrell Hammond doing an impersonation of Sean Connery as he describes the upcoming battle or victory.

Music (PQ Blackwell Limited, $4.99)  Photographer Andrew Zuckerman offers a brief multimedia glimpse into the minds of 50 musicians through a project produced in collaboration with Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Besides a coffee-table-style book and film being available, another component of the project is a slick iPad app that offers a snapshot into the minds of musical masters, including Laurie Anderson, Clint Black, Dave Brubeck, Danny Elfman and Philip Glass.

For each entry, viewers get a text chunk of the interview, Mr. Zuckerman’s multiple photographs of the artist and a roughly six-minute video chunk from the session.

Especially rewarding for me were the intimate looks at some of the eccentrics of the musical world who deliver some wonderful moments, including Sinead O’Connor’s recollection of the terrors of early success, Iggy Pop’s candid reflection on his drumming career as his punk-hardened features pop against a white backdrop, and Ozzy Osbourne’s amazingly coherent talk about his battles against addiction.

It’s a near-spiritual experience for the music fan.

The only slight to this wonderful resource is a required Internet connection (WiFi or 3G) to view the video component, which occasionally led to disappointment when I wasn’t hanging out in a broadband hot spot. 

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