Picky Kid Rating: 2.9
MatchBlitz is a multi-player iPad game for pre-schoolers with a very simple premise: Be the first to find and tap the item that’s duplicated on the screen. It’s harder than it sounds, which makes this game fun for parents (or older siblings/friends, etc.) to play with young ones. You don’t have to pretend to lose to your three-year-old every once in a while… you actually will!
When you first start the app, you’ll come to a screen with the different options for playing: Practice (one player), 2 Player, 3 Player or 4 Player. There’s also a “For Parents” area in the upper left, nicely protected with written instructions to unlock it. This area has some more information about the game, and a few links. There’s usually a promo for another app by the developer in the lower left corner. This is also protected by written instructions, so it’s unlikely that young kids will get derailed from this screen.
For very young children, you might want to start with “Practice” mode. After tapping the “practice” button, you’ll see a brief 3-2-1 countdown, then a screen with three objects on it. Tap one of the two that are the same, and you’ll move on to a slightly harder screen with four objects to choose from. Eventually (actually quite quickly if you’re playing along), the screen will have seven different objects on it. Sometimes they’ll all be of similar color or shape, so it may take a bit longer than you expect to find the match. After ten screens, you’ll come to the end of the round with an audible cheer, a “Well Done!” message, and your time. The time doesn’t mean much to kids, but it might interest adults playing in practice mode. You’ll need to keep a separate record of your personal bests — there are no high scores in this game.
If you ever want to leave a game before it’s complete, you can tap the pause icon. This is in different places depending upon which mode you’re playing; in Practice mode, it’s in the upper left. When you tap this button, the screen will darken, and you’ll see a large “Paused” message, with two buttons beneath to “Resume” or “End Game”. These two buttons look the same, and it would be nice if there were some more visual differentiation between them to help kids who can’t read yet figure out what to do.
If you select one of the multi-player modes from the home screen, the game surface will be divided into different sections, one for each player. The object of the game is still the same: to find and tap the matching object on the screen. The first time we played a multi-player version, we were looking for matches in just our section — but you need to look at the entire screen to find them. The matching object will be in each person’s section. So if you’re playing a 2-player game, there will be two of the object to find, if you’re playing a 3-player game, you’re looking for matches of three, and you must find sets of four matching items in the 4-player game. When you find the matching object, tap it in your section and you win a point! Tap the wrong thing, and you will lose a point.
The game ends when one of the players reaches 10 points, at which point some stars and the word “Winner” will appear in that player’s section. (Tap anywhere to go back to the home screen and start a new game.)
It is harder to win than you might think, (really — I’m not kidding about this!) especially in the 3- and 4-player games, for a number of reasons:
- You need to look carefully to make sure the object is on the screen in everyone’s section.
- Objects of similar shape, color, or style are tricky when you’re trying to go fast
- Sometimes, motion is added to make things even more challenging… Things look alike when they’re spinning around!
The design of this app is simple, but effective. If you’ve played other games by Shiny Things, you’ll recognize some of the illustrations. They’re generally cute, and a bit cartoonish, but not obnoxiously so. The sound effects (a simple ding for a correct choice, and a sort of boing for an incorrect one) are just right. Animations are simple, but effective. We like how the matched objects come together when a match is made. It helps reinforce the concept, and in a multi-player game, who got the point.
A background music loop runs through the entire game, and there’s not a way to turn it off. (This game has no settings at all.) It’s repetitive, but not too loud, and you can adjust the iPad volume so that it’s possible to hear the sound effects without much of the music.
We’ve had a few issues with this game crashing, especially after using the pause function… So be aware that you might lose your current game if you leave it paused for a while. (The crash causes the game to close, and when it’s reopened, you’ll be returned to the start screen instead of the current game.)
A note about the age ranges given: Practice mode could be played by toddlers under age three, but the pace of the game and the rest of the game modes might be difficult for very young kids. We introduced this game to B at age three and a half, and while she’s perfectly capable of playing, it’s not one of her favorites. It may be because she doesn’t yet care so much about winning. Or maybe it’s the pace of game (she’s not played other games that are time-based), or that the simple win animations aren’t quite engaging enough for her. Regardless, we’re holding on to this app; we expect it will get more appealing as she gets older.
Overall, MatchBlitz is a nicely produced multiplayer matching game that the whole family can play together. We’re finding it’s appeal is limited for a non-competitive three-year-old, but it could be hit in a household with more competitive kids, as long as they don’t mind there are no high scores. It’s also free!
[The developer of this app requested a Picky Kid review. No fees were paid.]Review: MatchBlitz iPad app,
Played on: iPad2, iOS6
- Shiny Things