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Hearing Phantom Free – app review

Picture of the Phantom app“Do you wanna be a hero with magic power?”

The blurb tells you that this is the first Android game which uses your voice to control the action. Actually, to be precise, it says this is the first game which uses your voice to “control, navigate the action. Hope it’s funny!”

It’s billed as being an aid to pronunciation helping you learn and practice. Having played the game for a while in the office (on a Nexus 10) I fear there may be a bit of exaggeration going on here.

Actually, more than a bit. Quite a lot of exaggeration in fact.

Gameplay

Like many apps this one forces you to start at the beginning so that no matter how good your English, you have to start with the very basics.

This is a bit of a shame as it means many users will get bored with the language and give up on the game before they start to find it challenging and useful.

You are presented with a simple puzzle: cute cartoon characters are “trapped” in a bag. You have to identify them through a small hole and then change the color of their monochromatic copies on the outside of the bag. You do this by simply saying the color.

That’s it. You look at something, work out what color it is, and then say the color out loud.

If you do this successfully you pass to the next level. So it’s not exactly three dimensional chess.

Language

For learners the language is extremely simple. Five minutes into the game and we were just saying, red, yellow or blue.

Ten minutes later we had added a couple more colors but were losing the will to live.

So for anything but the most basic of learners this app is extremely limited in its appeal which is a shame because it is actually quite a nice, neat looking app and with a little more thought could actually be quite good for students learning English.

So rather than be too negative, here’s some useful advice to the makers on how to make this a good app and earn more review points:

  • allow users to skip levels (they get bored otherwise)
  • add more language content (primary colors get boring very quickly)
  • add more puzzle types (the same basic problem for every level is actually very dull)

But there are also two more very important points to make if this is to be taken seriously as a learning tool.

First, get someone to proof read the instructions. There are so many English grammar errors it is embarrassing.

And second, give a template. If you are teaching pronunciation you MUST give learners an example of how to say the word first! You cannot just show the word written and expect students to say it, especially with English.

We never did get to orange but suppose a learner sees this for the first time, how should they say it? Where should the stress go? Is it a hard g or a soft g? So at least give learners something to copy!

Rating

It’s an attractive looking app with potential. Unfortunately it has not been thought through so although future versions might be able to earn more, for now:

Rating 1.5 out of 5.

Useful Links

Download link on Google Play

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