Jane Austen keeps pace with the modern world in an app that that sends a side-scrolling heroine madly sprinting across the top of time-honored text.
That could either be a heavily pixelated Elizabeth Bennet or a refugee from “Donkey Kong” hitching up her skirts and literally leaping through each of Pride and Prejudice’s beloved chapters. The difficulty comes in when the sweeping text is broken up and users must tap the iPad screen in order to send the cartoon representation in gold opera gloves bounding across yawning chasms to complete a sentence. When users trip up, so does she. Set on “Survival” mode, that means you and your throwback avatar are automatically transported back to “It is a truth universally acknowledged…” for another go. An optional acceleration feature makes this seemingly elementary task rather challenging. The normal reading mode automatically logs and displays the percentage of the Jane Austen tale you’ve been able to successfully consume before tripping up or resorting to the pause button. Survival mode maintains your high score. Users can choose among three background colors (white, black and sepia, all equally pleasing), and in-game sounds (aggressively electronic faux harpsichord) can also be toggled on and off. The app also gives users the opportunity to reset their last saved place. If speed-reading through Jane Austen’s captivating story isn’t your cuppa, users have the option of slowing things down while also maintaining the leaping feature. Oftentimes, it is the simplest apps—those that restrain the urge to exploit the iPad’s powerful features just because they can—that are the most effective. That is the case here, as well—but only up to a point. Running and jumping across familiar dialogue provides a surprisingly pleasing and kinetic interaction with text that many know intimately. The feature, however, quickly feels limited and soon begs for additional opportunities to interact with the text, which are just not present.
A pleasant literary diversion that should appeal to hard-core Jane Austen fans.