Picky Kid Rating: 2.4
Happy Draw Bug is an iPad app that helps kids draw objects and trace letters and symbols by following a little worm-like bug with their finger. It’s good for young kids who don’t feel they can draw, but want the experience of creating pictures themselves. It’s not particularly sophisticated, but not expensive either.
When you first open the app, you’ll come to a start screen, with a quick animation demonstrating the game, as a finger follows a bug to write “drawbug” on a leaf. You will probably want to turn the volume down on your iPad before launching the app. The music that accompanies the start screen is harshly electronic sounding. It’s over relatively quickly, but it’s more tolerable at low volume.
The home screen has five “tiles” across the bottom of the screen, each represents a category of things to draw. You can choose from shapes, vehicles, animals, things in and around a house, and symbols (letters, numbers, etc.). Tap a tile to select a category, and you’ll immediately start drawing the first object in the set. You won’t actually know what you’re drawing, because there’s no model shown. But you’ll see a dotted line that will give you a clue. You’ll also see a little red pulsing bug with yellow antennae. That’s where you should tap and hold to start drawing. When you tap, the bug will start moving, and you’re supposed to try to follow it as best you can with your finger.
It’s harder than it seems, because as you draw, the dotted line disappears, and if you get too far behind the bug, you might forget where it went. If you lift your finger while drawing, the bug will stop to let you catch up. This can help if you get too far behind.
Each drawing is made up of a set of line segments, and there’s a progress bar in the lower right of the screen so that you can see how far you are. Some of the more complex drawings have more than ten lines (the simple ones, like the circle, have just one). The bug is picky about which way you draw the lines. For example, if it goes clockwise around a circle, and you go counterclockwise, it doesn’t think you’ve completed that line yet. No worries though, just follow the bug again to proceed. Or if you’re just tired or bored with a certain drawing, you can skip to the next one in the category by tapping the green arrow in the upper right of the screen.
When you’ve completed all the lines in a drawing, you’ll get a number of stars in the bottom right. I think they correspond to how well you’ve followed the bug. You’ll also get a chance to color your drawing. First, a model will be shown, overlaid on top of your drawing, so you can see what the colors will look like. Then, you can color your drawing by rubbing the screen. You can’t choose your own colors; as you rub the screen the color will automatically appear, almost like working on a scratchboard. In fact, the noise you’ll hear when rubbing sounds a little like you’re scratching something with sandpaper.
Speaking of sound effects, they’re used quite a bit for feedback in the game. Each time you start a new drawing, there are a couple of a high-pitched tones (too loud!) and when you finish a line segment, there’s a satisfying little harp strum. Completing all line segments will result in a cheer. There’s not a noise for finishing coloring, I think because there’s no real “end” to that — you can stop whenever you’d like.
If you’d like to save a photo to your iPad’s photo album, you can do that by tapping the little camera icon at the bottom of the screen. But you will get a rather utilitarian looking message telling you to “Enable Photo Album Access” with instructions about changing the iPad’s privacy settings before you can.
The drawings you have worked on will remain how you’ve left them until you close and restart the app, at which point they’ll all be reset. If you’d like, you can erase and restart a drawing by tapping the trashcan icon near the top center of the drawing screen. Also at the top of the screen you’ll find a green leaf (to go back home), arrows to navigate forward or back, and a series of dots. The dots indicate which drawing you’re on in the categetory, and it seems like you should be able to tap them to navigate, but you can’t.
Another user experience hiccup concerns the category tiles on the home page. Although the tiles do a good job of representing the categories by showing a variety of objects (for example, the shapes category tile shows a square, a circle, a heart, and a triangle), not all of those objects are available to be drawn. The animals category tile shows a horse, a rooster, a moose, and a pig — none of which can be found in that series of drawings. Kids that tend to think literally may be frustrated or disappointed that they can’t draw those particular objects.
As an adult, I had the opposite kind of disappointment about the symbols category. I expected that it would contain the entire alphabet, which would be great for kids to practice writing letters. But nope, it has just A, B, and C, and then moves onto more obscure symbols (@ and #, which I find pretty funny, actually), then a simple math problem, $ and € symbols, etc. At least the last drawing in this category is all of the numerals. It would really nice to add more letters!
The graphics and design in this app are very basic. The illustrations are clip-art (acknowledged on the info screen), which is what it is (not great), but it’s even less tolerable when it’s flipped backwards. It wouldn’t have taken much extra effort to color in the words on the banana artwork accompanying the letter B so that we wouldn’t notice this…
One other faux-pas in this app: There are no parental controls on the link to the app’s web site. It’s accessible from the info screen (the i button in the upper right of the home screen). At least there are no links to social media or email, but we’d prefer that all links were protected somehow.
Bottom line, Happy Draw Bug is a simple drawing game that’s suitable for young children who have some patience and like to make pictures. It comes with some challenges, but is also just $0.99. If you’re on the fence, there is a “lite” version of the game which has half as many drawings (20, instead of 40).
[The developer of this app requested a Picky Kid review. No fees were paid.]Review: Happy Draw Bug iPad App,
Happy Draw Bug
Played on: iPad2, iOS6
- Lodewijk Loos