Picky Kid Rating: 2.9
Our search for a really great toddler counting app continues… While Counting Caterpillar has some things going for it (a faster pace than Counting Bees, better design than Toddler Counting, and more advanced than both), it still isn’t perfect. Sigh. I guess that’s what we get for being picky kids.
The point of the game is to feed numbered flying aphids to a caterpillar to help it grow. You must feed the aphids to the caterpillar in the correct order, which helps kids recognize their numbers. A voiceover reinforces the name of the number every time the caterpillar eats an aphid. When you’ve completed a set of counting, the caterpillar lights up as a voice repeats the numbers you’ve just counted, and you’ll be rewarded with a new butterfly for your collection. At this point, you’ll also be given an option to see your butterflies or continue counting. We like this break. It allows kids to make a conscious decision to keep playing.
The game is easy to start and use. From the home screen, we can choose to count at an easy, medium, or hard level. Easy counts consecutively from 1-100 in groups of 10, medium counts to 100 by 2, 5 or 10, and hard is “random counting,” meaning that it may count by 1, 2, 5 or 10, and won’t necessarily start at 1. All levels can be made fairly easy by turning on “hints” from the home screen. Hints provide a visual cue for which number comes next, by making the next aphid in the series orange. This makes it so that kids who don’t know their numerals yet can play the game.
Other options include turning music on or off (you may want it off since it’s repetitive enough to become annoying), a “start over” button that wipes out your butterfly collection, a link to the developer’s Web site, and a shortcut to the butterfly collection.
The game is decent in terms of its visual design — the caterpillar and butterflies are cute, and have interesting colors on a wood-grained texture background. I’m not sure if there’s a concept behind the wood-grain (trying to emulate a toy?) or if it’s simply aesthetic, but it’s fairly unique. It’s also fun that the caterpillar changes colors, shoes and other attributes from screen to screen. The motion could be improved on the iPad version. As the caterpillar climbs the tree, the background goes by so quickly that I get a bit dizzy. Also, the vertical game format is harder for small kids to handle — the iPad just doesn’t fit in their laps very well when it’s oriented vertically. For these two reasons, we think this game would be better on the iPhone than it is on the iPad.
Other minor complaints: Random counting in the hard mode could be better “randomized”. We got “Let’s count to 30!” twice in a row and three times out of five when playing this level. Also, the placement of the button to view your butterfly collection shifts depending on what screen you’re on, and the voiceover doesn’t match the numbers lighting up when you’ve finished a counting sequence.
If you’re looking for a counting game that helps kids with number recognition and different counting sequences, Counting Caterpillar is a decent option. But if you’re prone to motion sickness or your child has trouble handling an iPad in vertical orientation, we’d recommend this on the iPhone instead of the tablet.Review: Counting Caterpillar iPad app,
Played on: iPad 2, iOS4