Imaginary Range HD for iPad combines graphic novel with gaming

by Wayne Stuckey

Imaginary Range HD for the iPad is a very cool blend of graphic novel and gameplay that seems perfectly suited to tablet computing. The fact that this app is free should make it an automatic download for fans of both graphic novels or Square Enix games.

The premise of Imaginary Range HD is to take the quirky storytelling and art style from Japanese manga comics, blending them with story-related mini-games and music to form a unique experience. Overall, Square Enix succeeded in its mission to create a unique hybrid comic app, with just a few areas that could use improvement.

Fans of Japanese manga style comics will enjoy the artwork, and while Square Enix is not breaking new ground in terms of style, I found it lived up to what I would expect from the genre. What is unique, however, is the use of movement and panning of the panels themselves to create focus and emphasis on particular details. I'm sure this technique will become commonplace in future releases, and it is a great example of how the electronic medium can enhance the traditional graphic novel format.

Another way that panning is used in the title is to highlight picture items that can be selected and then used in puzzle/mini-games at certain points within the story. In some ways, I liked how this added both depth and more interaction to what would otherwise be a typical graphic novel. These mini-games truly do make sense in terms of the overall theme of the story and shouldn't be viewed as some gimmicky add-on. However, there were times when it had a tendency to interrupt the flow of the story, instead of enhancing it.

The music selection was somewhat limited, though I found the Ambient track gave a nice background tone and feel to the experience. Players can also select their own background music.

Overall, this app shows much promise for what lies in store for hybrid graphic novel apps. The fact that it's a free and interesting experience certainly make it worth checking out. I look forward to future content and and the continutation of the storyline.

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