Picky Kid Rating: 4.3
Alien Buddies offers four edu-taining activities for pre-K kids played out by cute alien characters. Almost all the activities have a range of difficulty levels, giving this app relatively wide age-range appeal. The downside is that so many level options are difficult for younger children to navigate, so this app is best for more experienced kids.
The app’s home screen allows players to pick an activity by selecting from four icons. The icons are labeled with words, but kids who can’t yet read will quickly learn which icon to touch for the desired activity (matching, puzzles, dot-to-dot or stickers). The home screen also includes a “Parents” button and a link to the developer’s Web site. Both are inconspicuous enough that they aren’t accidentally touched very often.
The matching game has an impressive selection of levels. You can chose to match colors, shapes, letters or numbers by sight or by sound. Letters and numbers have additional levels, such as smaller or larger sets of numbers, and lower case, upper case or mixed-case letters. Once a level is selected, the point of the game is to “save” aliens by dragging them into a pod. Aliens can only go into the pod if they match the letter, number, color, shape or letter on the pod. If you’ve opted to match by sound, you must first tap the pod to hear what should go in it. This is not necessarily a sound to visual exercise, because you may hear the letter, color, etc. on each alien by tapping the aliens as well. When you’ve matched ten aliens, you’re rewarded with positive reinforcement, e.g. “Hooray!” or “Sweet”!
The other activities are more straightforward, with less options. For puzzles, you may choose to have 4, 6, or 8 piece puzzles, and for dot-to-dot, you may elect to have “help” or to do it yourself. The buttons to make this selection are text-based, requiring a parent’s help the first time around. Luckily, once the option is selected, it sticks, and, unlike the matching game, there’s no need to select a level to play dot-to-dot. In the easier “Please help” mode, the number for the correct dot is highlighted, helping kids learn their numerals. One slight problem with this is that the child is more likely to tap the colored number than the dot it labels, and you must tap the dot (actually a star), not the number, to complete the drawing.
The sticker activity is the most straightforward. There are eight scenes to choose from, and stickers can be dragged from a panel on the bottom of the screen to the scene above. Compositions can be saved to the photo album. It’s a little too easy for kids to accidentally hide the sticker panel. B always asks for help to get it back. A bonus of the sticker activity is that it supports two-finger motions like pinch and pull to resize objects, and two-fingered rotation of objects.
It’s a shame the developers didn’t include similar multi-touch action in the puzzle activity. B attempts to rotate the puzzle pieces with two fingers (it doesn’t work), and she also attempts to pull a piece out of the way while dragging a different piece to the correct location with her other hand. It’s a logical action, but not supported. We’d love to see this improved in future updates!
The game is illustrated in a flat style that’s cartoonish, but not overly cute. We like the variety of ‘alien’ characters and the outer space themes that have a bit of 1960’s feel. Voiceovers and prompts (in American English only) are well-done in a child-like voice. You can begin playing a game before the voiceover instructions are complete, which is a good thing! Except that the instructions don’t stop playing and other audio cues are played at the same time, garbling the sound.
Overall, we recommend Alien Buddies. The biggest caveat is that the options and selections required for some of the activities may be overwhelming or frustrating to younger or less experienced players. Hold off getting it until your toddler is a bit older.Review: Alien Buddies iPad app,
Played on: iPad 2, iOS4
- ArtGig Apps