Robot synthesizer and touch-screen hack and slash: iPhone apps of the week

This week's apps include a funny, yet surprisingly deep synthesizer program and a dungeon crawler game similar to one of the greatest classic hack-and-slash RPGs of all time.


I read about a new term today for iPhone application fans that hits a little too close to home. The term is "Appnoxious," and describes iPhone owners who are always whipping out their iPhone to show their friends, family, or coworkers their favorite new app. Ahem.

I apologize to everyone, but I believe I might be just that: Appnoxious. In my defense, it's my job to seek out and find new iPhone apps, so I'm hoping at least some of the people I know will give me a pass? Maybe I should just embrace it...

This week's apps include a funny, yet surprisingly deep synthesizer program and a dungeon crawler game similar to one of the greatest classic hack-and-slash RPGs of all time.

Switch presets, access synth controls and effects, and save your customized robot sounds. (Credit: CNET)

Bebot--Robot Synth ($1.99) brings up a cute little robot in a tuxedo on your screen. Touching different areas of the screen causes the robot to move and "sing" while it produces realistic synth sounds. If you double-tap the arrow in the lower right part of the touch screen, you open up a side menu offering several ways to tweak your sounds. You can choose a different scale, make the touchscreen display lines for auto-tuned notes, and add effects to your sounds.

At first glance, Bebot seems like a simple and cute robot toy, but I quickly came to realize that the ability to choose from several different synth sounds, scales, and effects like Chorus and Echo, make this more of a musical instrument than I thought. You also can save your settings so the next time you launch Bebot, you can start right where you left off.

Sometimes quests involve finding the right switch to open locked doors. (Credit: CNET)

Underworlds ($2.99) is a dungeon crawling RPG that's a lot like the original Diablo from Blizzard. There's a basecamp above ground where you can buy and sell weapons, but most of the game is spent down in the dungeon, hacking and slashing your way through hordes of crypt-dwelling monsters. You'll find NPCs as you explore who will send you on quests to kill evil wizards, save people lost in the crypt, and other similar adventure game fare. The graphics are exceptionally good for an iPhone game and the interface makes it easy to check inventory, track your current health, and use special abilities you gain from leveling up. When you need to sell items, simply use a teleport to get back above ground, buy and sell items, then head back to the crypt.

Underworlds manages to be a very challenging and fun game even though I wonder how much time people will want to spend playing a game of this scope on their iPhone. The controls, consisting of an onscreen gamepad and a fairly solid system for using abilities and skills can nevertheless be a little difficult to handle at times. I mostly was able to get my warrior to do what I wanted. Overall, if you like Diablo and were waiting for a game of this type on the iPhone, Underworlds is definitely a worthy option.

What's your favorite current iPhone app? Are you as surprised as I am by the depth of the seemingly silly Bebot? Is Underworlds the hack-and-slasher you've been waiting for? Most importantly, are you Appnoxious? Let me know in the comments!

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.