Review: Talking Ben the Dog is unique, fun, and altogether odd in a good way

Poke at, talk to, and otherwise interact with a digital dog in this quirky app.

Talking Ben the Dog is one in a long line of talking apps that manages to combine the benefits of the iPhone technology with an interactive experience that is exceptionally entertaining. The reason Talking Ben the Dog (and his Tom Cat sibling app) works so well is because it sticks to the basics. The dog responds to just about everything you do onscreen, from calling him and having a conversation to poking his feet, ribbing him in the stomach, or manipulating the environment around him.

The app amounts to something of a sandbox, allowing you to do any number of things to see how Ben will respond. The easiest things to do are manipulative to the dog, himself -- poking, twisting, scratching, or petting. You can also call him and have a semi-coherent conversation through your phone, or you can move things onscreen to see how he will react. With the option to upgrade the room, add new outfits, and then record your actions, as well, this is a surprisingly deep app with a lot more to it than meets the eye. An added feature that parents will appreciate, as well, is the option for "child mode," effectively blocking micro-transactions.

Ben the Dog is a fun, lighthearted app that goes against conventional design to present something realistic (and yet incredibly silly) without the achievements, multi-player, or interactive elements that games and other top apps have. And yet it still manages to be quite a bit of fun for young and old, alike.

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