Price: $2.99   Score: 9/10   Category: Entertainment

When it comes to apps that turn the iPad into a zen garden there’s always Uzu and Midnight HD. It’s nice to see particle simulators in action, but sometimes there’s nothing better than a little backwoods reminiscing.

And for those times, there’s iFish Pond HD. Designed by John Mofett and released as the paid upgrade to the free PocketPond, iFish Pond HD is one of the most serene experiences I’ve ever seen on the iPad.

When you first open the app you’re met with a serene pond with loud crickets and a small school of fish swimming leisurely about. If you touch or brush your finger against the water it ripples realistically and the fish scatter away.

This serene experience about covers what the free app offers, but the paid version includes nine different ponds to choose from in the options menu. Instead of leaving each pond with just a different aesthetic, each choice also comes complete with a different overall soundtrack. The mossy bottomed pond is inundated with frogs while the brick bottom has music and the default setting is full of chirping birds.

To add to the overall experience you can turn the effects or ambience on or off and add a thunderstorm to the mix. The sound of the crackling thunder and rain falling on the rippling water is absolutely beautiful. I’d love to see the screen brighten and darken in flashes of lightning as well, but that’s a minor addition.

To add to the experience of iFish Pond HD, there’s also a semitransparent plus sign on the upper left hand corner. When you tap this button you’re given access to lily pads, hummingbirds, mosquitos, star shaped fish food, and frogs. Tapping on any of these elements drags it into the pond. The frogs jump from one lily pad to another when you tap on them while the mosquitos fly around in a buzz.

If you manage to tap a mosquito it falls and dies in the pond, but if you leave it flying and watch carefully you’ll have the pleasure of seeing the frog stick its tongue out and catch the mosquito. This is the overall charm of iFish Pond HD. It’s fully of lovable surprises that make you feel like you have a privileged view of nature.

In case the passive experience of hanging out with the animals isn’t exciting enough, iFish Pond HD has a fishing component as well. You flick the iPad forward to cast your rod and then wait patiently until you feel a bite. Then you bring the iPad back up (as if you were pulling the rod) and start reeling the fish in with a quick circular motion.

When you’ve got a fish a screen pops up telling you how much it weighs (and if you’ve beat an overall record based on the size of the fish). You click release to send the catch back into the water and start all over again. What’s nice is that some fish are easier to catch than others and when you meet certain goals you unlock more interactive creatures.

I won’t spoil all the fun on what you can unlock, but one creature happens to be a turtle whose head coils in when you tap it. All said and done, this is an absolutely charming app that’s a relaxing escape. It also combines a bit of a game-like feel with the fishing, which is nice.

If we went just on how this app makes me feel, I’d give this app a straight up 10/10. iFish Pond HD is truly a wonderful app and it doesn’t get old as quickly as most of the other apps I’ve downloaded.

Still, I felt I had to drop a point off the rating because of two thing. First, the font of the actual menus makes the graphic design feel a little unprofessional. That said, the pond itself (including the water and fish) are all absolutely incredible.

Second, the fishing reel sometimes gets stuck. No matter how hard you shimmy or circulate your finger, it’s stuck. To escape the issue you either have to close to app or wait awhile. This doesn’t happen often but it happens and it’s kind of a bummer. If you’re willing to overlook these small issues (which will probably get fixed with updates), you’ve landed yourself one of the most relaxing, nature-like experiences on the iPad

Bottom Line: iFish Pond HD is a serene nature experience with a game-like fishing element. A great relaxing app.

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