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It has been four years since The Polyphonic Spree last released an album. They are back now, however, in the form of the Bullseye app. They have chosen to release the first single from their upcoming album in the form of an interactive music video app for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch available from the iTunes store.
The band The Polyphonic Spree are well known for their positive music and signature white robes. Fans of the Spree will be glad to know they have another album coming out. Even iPhone or iPod Touch users who don't know the band will enjoy the Bullseye app. It is an innovative way to release a new single -- a character-driven, interactive narrative reflective of their song’s message. You play through an expansive and changing world as the character You-Me, who is a small creature trying to find his way in the world. Plants grow and life is created wherever you hear, see and touch the world around you.
You can download the Bullseye by Polyphonic Spree app from the App Store on your device, or your computer for $1.99. So is it worth it? Let's take a closer look.
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I downloaded this app on my iPod Touch not knowing what to expect. I have been a fan of The Polyphonic Spree in the past, but I wasn’t sure what I was in store for here.
As soon as you open the app, the story begins with the opening chords of Bullseye playing over a scene of colorful circles. If the circles are touched, they let loose soft floating lights. A larger set of circles finally forms emitting a yellow seed that floats to the ground. You can swing your iPod back and forth to alter the path somewhat, but it will fall to the ground no matter what you do.
As strange creatures pass by the seed, it starts to grow one leg and one foot, and then attempts to follow them. The seed, the character named You-Me, continues following the creatures. It passes small plants or small hills, which grow when touched.
As You-Me makes its way up a slope, it drags along a new section that has grown off it. You-Me drops to the ground in front of a rising sin and splits into two pieces.
The two seeds quickly realize they can work better together, and join to create one seed with two legs. It then makes its way up the big tree trunk and catches up to the other creatures waiting in the branches.
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Interactivity is Limited
Even though this is transmedia storytelling and I did enjoy this app, it can be improved. Despite the fact that the app is strictly-speaking interactive, you can do nothing to change the course of the character.
There are a number of actions you can take throughout the song. When the seed is falling, you can shake your device and make it swing. This only changes where the seed lands on the ground and has no effect on the story. You can also control whether You-Me walks regularly or uses a windmill motion to walk, but this also does not affect the story.
The most interesting aspect of interaction in this app is your ability to grow pieces of the background. The plants, hills, and mushrooms all change upon your touch and attention. The physical and spiritual growth of You-Me is important to the story the song is telling, and the reflection of that growth in the background is well done.
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Overall, the functionality of the Bullseye app is average but the features are good. You-Me is the perfect protagonist for the story. It could be improved, however, by improving user interaction. For example, directing the falling of the seed to land in one or two different scenes that would lead to a different path to the tree, perhaps causing You-Me to have to swim across a stream, etc. to get to the tree. As long as all paths lead to the same tree it would work well.
Being able to control the paths that You-Me takes would give the user more responsibility in the storytelling. Deciding where You-Me goes and how he gets there gives you more power over the story.
This app does do a good job conveying the song’s message, however, and is worth the small price. App songs are becoming more popular. This app would have been perfect for me if it gave the user more interaction. I would still highly recommend this app for anyone who enjoys The Polyphonic Spree, or even anyone who enjoys interactive music videos in general.
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- Bullseye by Polyphonic Spree, http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bullseye-by-polyphonic-spree/id448080302?mt=8
- All screenshots courtesy of the developer.