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New iPhone apps worth downloading: SportsManias Sports News update, Gorilla Band, Lionel Battle Train

by Phil Hornshaw

Start the week with all your most interesting sports news with today's first app worth downloading, SportsManias Sports News. The app is geared specifically at delivering news about your favorite teams, and packs videos, stats and more as well. We've also got Gorilla Band, an interactive storybook app for kids that also helps them learn about music. Finally, there's the iPad game Lionel Battle Train, in which players outfit a train with weapons and armor in order to take down attackers bent on stealing their cargo.

SportsManias Sports News & Custom Team Feeds update (Free)

SportsManias Sports NewsWhat’s it about? Get a personalized feed of news about your favorite sports teams from a variety of sources with SportsManias.

What’s cool? With all the sports news out in the world on any given day, cutting the clutter to find what interests you most – the news about your favorite teams – can take some time. SportsManias' Sports News app is geared at driving down to the most interesting news you want to read, and providing it to you from a number of sources and perspectives. You can pick your favorite teams and see streams about each of them, and quickly read news stories from sources like sports writers and even get info and updates about the players themselves. The app also provides the usual stuff, like scores and stats, and has recently been updated with a new user interface design for better readability and to add new features like a video section and a search function within streams.

Who’s it for? Sports fans, use SportsManias to get your team news faster

What’s it like? Team Stream and ESPN ScoreCenter are both great sports news alternatives, as well.

Gorilla Band ($0.99)

Gorilla BandWhat’s it about? Gorilla Band is a music-themed interactive story, giving kids a chance to read through a tale while also enjoying music and learning along the way.

What’s cool? Combining music and reading to help kids learn, Gorilla Band is an interactive story with 3-D graphics and a lot of opportunities for kids to participate as its tale unfolds. The game is, as the name suggests, about a group of gorillas who form a band, and the app allows kids to either have the story read to them, or read it to themselves. It also packs interactive moments, in which kids have to do things like identify instruments used in a scene. The app packs two soundtracks – an upbeat one and one that's geared toward bedtime storytelling – and also lets kids play in its interactive studio section, where they can spend more time identifying instruments by sound, name and appearance.

Who’s it for? Gorilla Band is great for kids around the age of learning to read, and for parents who want to give them an experience that's also musically oriented.

What’s it like? Developer Wasabi Productions also has other interactive storybook apps worth checking out, including Lazy Larry and Ten Giggly Gorillas.

Lionel Battle Train (iPad) (Free)

Lionel Battle TrainWhat’s it about? Protect your train and outfit it with tons of weapons to fight off bandits in Lionel Battle Train.

What’s cool? You've got deliveries to make across the New Badlands in Lionel Battle Train, and the only way to make them and allow life to continue for the people who live there is by train. But there are bandits who want to stop you and take over the rails, so your job is to build and outfit your train with some serious defenses to fight off enemies. The game has players combining various sorts of weapons and armor to fight through its many levels, and as you progress, you'll unlock new capabilities to keep your train chugging along and blasting through enemy cars. There's also an endless play mode that challenges players to see how far they can get with just the preparations they make for their trains, and the skills they bring with them.

Who’s it for? If you enjoy games that riff on genres like strategy and tower defense, Lionel Battle Train will present an interesting take on both.

What’s it like? For a more puzzle-oriented train game, check out Rail Maze.

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