Picky Kid Rating: 3.0
Jungle Adventure is a colorfully illustrated iPad app with two toddler-friendly activities. In the Jungle Adventure game, you listen and find animals in colorful scenes while also practicing counting. In the Jungle Puzzle game, you can put together simple puzzles. We love the illustrations, but… well, you know the Picky Kids, we always find something to complain about! 🙂
When you first start the app, you’ll come to the home screen where you can select from the two activities or go to the “For Parents” area. The activities are the more obvious choices; they look like postcards in the middle of the screen, and are different enough visually that kids can figure out which is which. The For Parents are is not protected by any sort of tricky parental control, so it’s easily accessible by children (though not that compelling to click on), and it contains links to the developer’s Web site, and facebook and twitter pages, and to rate the app. We’d like to see this area, or the links within it, protected so that kids don’t go (figuratively) wandering off!
But, like I said, the obvious choice is to tap a postcard to start an activity. Let’s start with Jungle Adventure! Tap and you’ll come to a start screen for the activity where you’ll hear some narrated instructions. From this screen, you can go to the home screen (tap the house icon in the upper left), adjust settings for this activity (tap the gear icon in the lower left), or start the activity. The start button is in the lower left, and it could be more prominently placed, and/or include a “play” arrow to help kids know what to tap. (Currently, it’s just text that says “start”.)
Start the activity, and you’ll see a brilliantly illustrated jungle scene, with a written and narrated instruction to “Find 1 hungry yellow lion.” Your job is to find and tap the lion. When you do, you’ll hear a reinforcing voiceover, the number 1 will appear on him, and you’ll be automatically advanced to the next screen, where you’re prompted to “Find 2 snapping green crocodiles.” If you’re stuck, a friendly safari character (we’ll call her Safari Girl) will walk out onto the screen and remind you “Just two more to find!” (or however many you are missing). Or you can manually advance yourself to the next screen by tapping the right arrow in the bottom right of the screen. Some of the animals are hiding pretty well and will take a bit of patience (or help) for toddlers to find. As you tap the animals, they’ll move around a bit, giving the illustration some life.
After you’ve found 10 furry black spiders, you’ll have completed the Jungle Adventure game, and you’ll have a chance to take a photo with Safari Girl and a bunch of animals. It’s a fun concept, but difficult for kids for a number of reasons. First, they must decide if they want a photo — by tapping either the “Yes” or “No , thanks” button. The text on these buttons is colored differently, but other than that, there are no visual clues to help. You must make a choice — there’s no home button or forward button on the screen to provide alternative navigation to other parts of the app. Tapping “No, thanks” will take you back to the home screen, but that’s not obvious to kids who want to keep playing.
If a toddler taps “Yes” to indicate they want a photo, they’re going to need help. There are more choices to make, and again, they’re all text: “Capture Photo”, “View Gallery” or “Cancel”. “Capture Photo” will bring up the iPad’s camera and allow you to take a photo, which you can then zoom, rotate and move to get into the right place. (Again, reading required, as well as fairly advanced pinch & drag skills.) Finally, you have the option to “Email photo” or go “Back to Home.” (More text buttons.) We really wish there were a way to turn the photo feature off so that kids could have a more fluid experience. Not to mention that any kids app that allows access to my email makes me shudder! (Eek, what lucky client will that crazy photo by accident?!)
You can turn off many other things in the settings, including sounds for animal names, animal sounds, colors, music, number and all sound. The settings for each game can be accessed from each game’s start screen. We tried turning some of these off to see what happens. Most affect what you hear after you find all the animals in a scene. Normally, you’d hear “One brown monkey” upon finding the first monkey, but you can hear less if you’d like by adjusting the settings. (For example, turn off the color sound, and you’ll just hear “One monkey.”)
There are also general settings for each game that include instructions, a way to activate “random play” (normally, the screens in the adventure will show in order from 1 to 10 animals to find, in random play mode, they’re mixed up), and language settings. The game is available in (American) English, French, German and Spanish. The last four options in the General Settings menu are actually links, to rate the app, get help (an email link), and to go to the developer’s Web site and facebook page. Like the Parents Area, the links are not protected.
As you can imagine, there are fewer settings for the Jungle Puzzle game. The one you’re most likely to use is the “Mode” general setting. This allows you to set the difficulty of the puzzles.”Easy” will create 4-piece puzzles, “Medium” makes 6-piece puzzles, and “Hard” makes 9-piece puzzles. Unfortunately, this setting doesn’t stick when you restart the app (actually, none of them do), so you may find yourself fiddling with setting each time you play. Bummer, especially for language settings.
The Jungle Puzzle game has ten different puzzles that represent the animals that you find in the Jungle Adventure game. The puzzle pieces are simple rectangles instead of irregular or jigsaw-style shapes. This makes the puzzles less visually interesting than other kids puzzle games we have. When you complete a puzzle, the animal will animate a bit and you’ll be automatically advanced to the next puzzle. You can use the left and right arrows at the bottom of the screen to navigate manually. When you get to the end of the series, you’ll have options to “Play again!” or “No, thanks.” If you’re done, you must tap “No, thanks” to get back to the home screen. (There’s no option to take a photo this time!)
We like the look of this app a lot, especially, the colorful and complex illustrations. Animations are fairly simple, and could be improved in some places. For example, Safari Girl walks onto the screen to help from time to time, she then just disappears — why doesn’t she walk out like she came in? The interface could be improved by adding icons to help kids who can’t read the text on the buttons.
The app’s sound is pretty good. The background music is an upbeat loop of percussion and vibes. The voiceovers are decent, and this app does an above average job of assembling sound files so they don’t sound too unnatural. For example, when you tap an animal and hear “Two brown monkeys”, it’s actually three different sound files but the delay isn’t too bad (choppy voiceovers are a huge pet peeve of ours!). At one point in the Jungle Adventure game Safari Girl says “This one is hard!” — and we’d prefer a positive message instead.
All and all, Jungle Adventure is a solid counting and vocabulary building game for toddlers, though it has limited content. Its biggest challenges are in the interface, where too there’s too much dependence on reading text, and the unprotected links out of the app, especially to email!
[The developer of this app requested a Picky Kid review. No fees were paid.]Review: Jungle Adventure iPad App,
Played on: iPad 2, iOS6