Ansel + Clair: American Bowl (Cognitive Kid, 2013) brings together American history…and virtual bowling. In other Ansel + Clair apps, Ansel (an alien) and Clair (a flying robot) travel through time and space learning about Earth’s different places and eras. In American Bowl, the space duo needs your help to free fifty bald eagles from dastardly bowling pin–shaped bird-nappers. You do this by answering U.S. history-themed trivia questions; every time you get an answer correct, you bowl for a chance to free a bird. Once you free all fifty eagles, you win.
First you’ll need to create a player (up to four players/game). Then choose from easy, medium, and hard levels — you can always go back to the main screen and change your level — and select up to eight topic categories. There are fifteen categories in all, and with more than a thousand multiple-choice questions (and hundreds of accompanying photos), you won’t run out. All three levels include “Amazing Americans,” “Our Rules Rock!,” and “Important Events.” Additional categories could be “All About Our States,” “Woo-Hoo for Holidays!,” “Legends in Sports,” “The United States at War,” or “She’s a Trailblazer.”
One question I was asked in the easy level was “Inside which building would you find the Oval Office?” The possible answers were Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Pyramids, and White House. If you answer incorrectly, you’ll go on to a different question, but if you answer correctly, an explanation with interesting facts will appear (“The President works in the Oval Office inside the White House.”).
Then you’ll be taken to the bowling alley where you’ll have a chance to free a bald eagle. Swipe up to roll the ball down to the pins (swipe down first to pull the ball back and give it more speed). If any pins remain, you go back and answer more questions. Once all the pins have been knocked down, the eagle is free, and you win a history-themed bowling ball (with a picture of the Statue of Liberty on it, for example), complete with fun facts. After every bowling turn you go to a new question and repeat the process.
On the bowling page you’ll also find the count of how many eagles you’ve freed and your pin arrangement for that turn. Occasionally you’ll also unlock new pin arrangement options, some of which make it more challenging to knock down all the pins at once. Icons across the top of the screen allow you to track how many questions you’ve answered correctly (three right answers in a row earn you a bowling power-up), swap out your ball for another from your collection, access sound or parental controls, or return to the menu.
I wish the app offered options for just playing the trivia game, just bowling, or answering more questions in a row between bowls — I started to find the one question/one bowl setup tedious. But the app is easy to navigate and user-friendly, and there’s a variety of questions and informative facts. And, hey, who doesn’t love bowling and trivia?
Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch (requires iOS 6.0 or later); $0.99. Recommended for intermediate users.