Picky Kid Rating: 2.1
If you’ve been following the Picky Kids for a while, you’ll know we enjoy kids apps that look unique. (We can only handle so many cartoony and primary colored graphics!) Loopy Lost his Lettuce certainly fits that category; the crocheted artwork and the promise of an interactive story were what drew us to this app. And we’re not disappointed by the crochet work, but we are in several other areas…
Ultimately, this game is too complex for pre-schoolers. Most of the concepts are within reach, but a complicated and mostly text-driven user experience hinders play for kids that can’t yet read.
When you first start the app, be patient! The splash screen stays up just long enough to make you wonder if you’re supposed to tap something, but soon the start screen will appear. From the start screen, you can select Story or Games, see the credits (where, unfortunately, links to Facebook and Twitter are not protected), toggle music, and toggle Game Center.
Tap Story, and you’ll immediately have to make another decision: Read to Me, or Read by Myself. Tap one of those, and you’ll need to make yet another decision by selecting Easy, Medium or Hard. Not only does this leave us scratching our head (how does “Read to me, Easy” differ from “Read to me, Hard”?) but it’s a lot of steps to start the game, and they’re all steps that require reading to complete, until your pre-reading child memorizes the placement of all the appropriate options.
Tapping Games from the home screen is not much better. You’ll be presented with a screen to select which game (out of six) you want to play. In this case, there are some visual clues (thumbnails of the game screens) which should help, but the background of the page is so busy that they blend in, making it hard to distinguish some of them. Once you select a game, you’ll be presented with the choice Read to Me or Read by Myself. (Huh? Didn’t I just select games, not reading?) … and then one more decision: Easy, Medium or Hard.
Yow, we have not even started playing yet! Though we think we now understand the reason for all these choices (Read to me in games will read the game instructions out loud… and Easy in story mode refers to how difficult the games will be when you encounter them in the story), they could be much more user-friendly. Adding to the confusion is the fact that when you select a game, you don’t always go directly to the game, you might go to the page in the story before the game… and you just might have to read an instruction on that page before you can even start the game.
Each game has additional instructions which are written, and, if you’ve selected Read to me, read aloud. Make sure to tap “Read More” to hear/read all of the instructions… it’s usually not enough to read/hear just the first part of the instructions.
The games include:
- Finding Butterflies by tapping them (a timed activity)
- Collecting Acorns by shaking the iPad to make them drop (can be difficult and result in dropped iPads with younger kids) and tilting the iPad to collect them
- Helping a Bee collect pollen by tap & holding flowers
- Navigating a maze by tilting the iPad
- Building a snowman by tilting the iPad to collect pieces, then dragging them to the correct positions
- A memory game where you match crocheted snowflakes
The games are played within the context of the story… So when the game ends, and you tap the next arrow, you’ll be reading the story. You also usually have choices to replay, go home, or view the leaderboard (if you have Game Center enabled).
Oh yes, the story… The story follows the saga of Loopy, a hungry snail, as he tries to reach a head of lettuce for a snack. The lettuce is incredibly mobile and durable — Loopy must follow it through all the seasons of the year before he [spoiler alert] finally catches and eats it. It’s written in rhyme, and the text is displayed on screen. You can interact with some of the items in the scenes, but it’s usually not necessary to advance. There are arrows at the bottom of the screen that allow navigation back and forward in the story (again, be patient — load times between scenes can be long), as well as a pause button in the top right that allows you to go back to the home screen, or toggle options for Read to Me, Game Center, and Music.
To be honest, we’ve never gotten all the way through the story in one sitting. The games that are interspersed can take a few minutes or more each, and usually by the time B completes a game, she’s ready to move on to a completely different app. Also, even with “Read to Me” on, there are parts of the story that will require help for kids who can’t read — written instructions appear on screen telling you (for example) to tilt the iPad , or to tap something… a non-reader may get stuck in these spots.
The narration (in Australian English only) is otherwise adequate, but generally not very engaging. The reading in several sections feel rushed and flat, as if the voice talent would rather be doing something else. The music and sound is also a mixed bag — in some places it’s fine, but in others, it’s annoying (too arcade-like) or needs refinement. Some of the sound effects don’t match up with the animation effects very well.
The look of the game is very unique. We were not disappointed by the crocheted illustrations… they are rich in color and texture! But the overall design detracts from them, because there’s often a lot of text on top of them, and the screens are generally quite visually busy.
Bottom line? Loopy Lost his Lettuce will satisfy your need to see some creative crocheted illustrations in an iPad app, but we don’t recommend this story/game for young children. It’s simply too difficult to use if you can’t read, and has limited educational value.
[The developer of this app requested a Picky Kid review. No fees were paid.]Review: Loopy Lost His Lettuce iPad App,
Loopy Lost his Lettuce
Played on: iPad 2, iOS6
- Nick Fettke