The Sandbox

The Sandbox

Pixel graphics take on a whole new perspective

Pixel art is something that almost every gamer has affection for; seeing something boxy and rough around the edges brings on a wave of nostalgia. As a result iOS has seen plenty of games rely on pixel art despite the visual advances of recent years, and The Sandbox is no exception. In fact, this game has taken the idea of using pixel art to a whole new level by turning its limitations into a cornerstone of gameplay.

The Sandbox sees you creating your own world, pixel by pixel, with the user taking on the role of a deity, dropping in various basic elements with the aim of creating new ones to further advance and evolve your world. A single pixel represents a single element, with swipes across the screen creating cascades of water, soil and sand to form the bed of your landscape.

There are two main areas of gameplay, Story Mode – where you have tasks and missions to complete each day in order to unlock new elements, and Free mode where you can experiment with everything you unlock and create what you like. The game also comes with Game Center tie-ins as well as a gallery mode where you and others can admire images of worlds created within The Sandbox.

As well as being able to create and then drop in elements, users can harness the power of the climate to influence how various elements react. You can raise or lower the temperature to alter the climate, and create things like snow, ice, fire and lava. These changes obviously have a big impact on the landscape you’ve sculptured, but this trial and error is one of the big attractions of the game. Doing things like this in the Free mode can earn you Mana, the form of currency within the game. This in turn can be used to purchase new elements to help you complete missions, so the more you experiment, the further you’ll progress.

The Sandbox then is more than just a clever application of pixel art, it is a quickly addictive game that requires patience and some hard thinking. But that level of challenge and brain-teasing only makes success even sweeter when it arrives. A must-have game.

Rated 5 out of 5

A clever little game that, for a free download, really shouldn’t be missed.


  • TITLE=DragonBox – The Coolest Algebra App Ever for Kids (Seriously!);RATING=5;If you have a child who loves playing mobile games, let me introduce you to Dragonbox. Dragonbox is a revolutionary new game that will help your child to learn algebra while progressing at their own pace. I´ve seen some great iPad apps before, mainly on this website, but this cool game deserves a special post.

    The people behind Dragonbox have created a game that enables children experience algebra concepts as a real game that is actually geart fun! After only one hour of playing, they´ll be able to solve mathematical equations and have fun doing it too – you could say a “win-win” situation.
    Move the picture boxes around the screen using the game rules (the rules of algebra) and try to isolate the dragon box.
    The DragonBox game has been tested in schools in Norway, where the results showed significant increased understanding of basic mathematics and the improved ability to solve complex equations. My own 11 and 14 year olds enjoyed competing to complete the DragonBox+ version (with 100 extra levels), my daughter even replaying levels to get to the full 3 reward stars available to collect in each level. I also caught my wife moving the colourful boxes around the screen and muttering how addictive it was.
    I´ve read that children as young as 5 years old have learned the ideas behind solving algebraic equations using this very clever game. It really is a great game for parents to play along with their kids – and freshen up their own maths skills.
    Starting with removing starbursts, and moving on to adding negative dragons to both sides, DragonBox introduces deviding and multiplying terms in the same step-by-step, easy to understand way.
    The game is great for young kids who have never heard of algebra as well as older kids who don´t completely understand the usual ´we move this one over here and devide this one´ type explanations. Read the reviews on iTunes and Google Play to see how much kids (plus parents and teachers) are loving this game.

    DragonBox+ contains an additional 100 standard equations featuring good old fashioned letters, to help your child become a master of algebra, even finding the most difficult looking equations easy to solve.
    DragonBox and DragonBox+ are universal apps. Buy once and play on your iPad (like my kids) or on your iPhone (like me and my wife).
    The games are reasonably priced – DragonBox costs 2.99 USD and DragonBox+ costs 5.99 USD. A private math teacher would cost so much more and I doubt if my kids would thank me for spending the monet to help them! DragonBox has got me smiling.

  • TITLE=MAKE ME MUSIC APP FOR KIDS;RATING=5;Stylishly rendered Garage Band for beginners that lets kids express their inner Mozart or Madonna while learning about rhythm and melody in a bright, beautiful sound garden. Make Me Music, is a loud, raucous cacophony of ringing, honking, strumming and banging instruments brought to life by legendary Beatles´ artist Alan Aldridge and the creative folks at The app is very user-friendly with little or no instruction needed. The home screen has a big play button in the centre surrounded by a few instruments including some with hands and feet. Pushing play takes you directly to the music room. It’s anchored by a winding red pipe covered in garlands of flowers that laugh or make funny noises when touched. A question mark in the top left corner brings up basic directions which let parents know that the four flowers across the bottom of the screen control rhythms and the arrows in the bottom right corner let you change the melody from a Caribbean vibe ukulele to a jazzy trumpet. When the melody is changed, the background in the room changes colour as well which gives pre-schoolers a subtle hint to perhaps change the tempo of their composition. All the kid-created symphonies and concertos can be recorded by activating the microphone symbol on the bottom left. Kids get a 3, 2, 1 countdown before recording begins. Compositions can be saved by emailing them to yourself or friends. They are converted to a mp4 format, so once downloaded, tunes can be made into ringtones or used as background music for home movies or whatever creative pursuit calls for maximum banging and clanging. Music is the great equalizer because you are never too young, too old or too disabled to participate in it. The recordings my kids and I made with Make Me Music were not as pretty as the app’s band room, but we had a lot of fun. Private music lessons or even the yuppie filled music classes I took my kids to are expensive and a luxury many families (and increasingly schools) can no longer afford. If the research is to be believed, this $1.99 app which follows the Orff method is a good investment in your child’s academic future. Regardless of your stance on the importance of music education, Make Me Music is a welcome departure from the plethora of preschool apps and games currently available. Recommended for 3+ ios.