Picky Kid Rating: 3.4
Pan, the Fearless Beribolt is an interactive adventure story about a purple panda-bear like creature named Pandora, who lives with her clan, the Beribolts, in the clouds. Pan is a bit rambunctious, and tends to get into trouble with the Beribolt elders. Preschoolers can relate to her — but she doesn’t always set a good example, so watch out if your pre-K kid tends to mimic behavior!
When you first start the app, you’ll get a push notifications alert that you’ll need to deal with. Then, the main character, Pandora — “Pan” for short — will fly into view and start telling you what to do. For example, “Hello!”, “Tap on us to hear what we have to say”, “Look for arrows and glowing things for hints”, etc. There’s also a written cue, “Tap to play” underneath Pan. There are a few other options on the home screen — you can turn the narrator off, or visit the photo booth.
Tap Pan to start the story. There’s an animated intro scene that sets up the adventure with a bit of Beribolt history. It plays like a video, and might be frightening to kids who scared of thunder and lightning. It lasts less than a minute, and then the interactive story starts. Pan provides instructions by prompting “Drag me to the rug” — and there are also visual cues to help.
Though the Beribolt characters are the main focus of each scene, there are plenty of other interactive elements to explore and discover. Try tapping around and see what you can make happen! At the bottom of the screen, you’ll see some controls; There’s a text panel, which appears while the narrator is speaking (and which you can pull back up from a small tab at the bottom center of the screen if it’s not visible), a menu icon on the left side of the screen, and an arrow at the right. As you would guess, tapping the arrow takes you to the next scene. You may tap it at any time, even if you haven’t completed all the activities in a scene. If you have completed all activities in a scene, a little bug will fly across the bottom of the screen and land on the arrow to help you along your way.
Activities include things like throwing a boomerang by swiping and dragging objects into specific places on the screen. Most are fairly simple (just follow the instructions given), but one takes some problem-solving skills. There’s a scene in which Pan must “apologize” to the folks she’s hurt by setting the bazaar on fire (more about that later!) by giving them appropriate gifts. To figure out which gift to give each character, you need to tap the character to hear what’s wrong, and then drag the related item to them. It’s pretty hard for pre-schoolers for a couple of reasons:
- Kids won’t get all the references. For example, one of the problems is “You made me late for my date.” We’re supposed to give that character flowers, but that’s a pretty big conceptual leap for a 4-year-old to make!
- Some of the gifts to be given are labelled with words (“Cabbage Seeds” and “Eyebrow Balm”), and non-readers don’t know what they are.
These challenges don’t really stop B though. She figured the more difficult ones out through trial and error, and now remembers which gift to give everyone. I think this type of activity is great for the creative problem-solving aspect, but it would be much more effective if the content was age-appropriate for younger kids.
We have a few other issues with the content of this story. Pan is often bending the rules. In some cases, this is fine — she gets punished for her actions, which may help kids understand cause and effect. But in other cases, her actions are dangerous. In one scene, she plays with fire and ends up setting the entire bazaar on fire. In another, she runs away from home. (Not behaviors I want B modeling!) Also, Pan’s parents are presumed to be dead.
That said, Pan’s personality, and those of the other characters, are one of the things this app does well. There’s also a fair amount of humor that young kids won’t get, but that adults will appreciate. It seems the developers had some fun writing the script!
The music, voiceovers (in American English only) and illustrations are generally well done. The animations (especially the way the mouths move when talking) could be more sophisticated, but don’t detract too much.
It’s generally intuitive to play, but B has trouble when she gets to the end and wants to start the game over. At the end of the story, two large buttons appear on the screen, one to “Send a Pandagram” and the other other to “Rate your adventure” (an unprotected link to the app store). It is possible to restart the game, by tapping the menu icon in the lower left, and then tapping the “home” icon, but this screen would be improved if there were an obvious home button. (Another word of warning about this screen — there’s a glowing red rock on the screen. When you tap it, you’ll get a preview for the next story… and it’s a bit scary, young kids might be frightened.)
The “Pandagram” area allows you to take photos with Pan. This area requires help and supervision — first to allow access to photos, and then to tap the appropriate link. Photos can be shared via facebook, twitter or email — these links are not protected, so watch out!
Overall, Pan: The Fearless Beribolt is a solid interactive adventure story. The characters have a lot of personality and are highly relatable for pre-schoolers. We don’t recommend this for kids under 4 though, because the subject matter is fairly sophisticated. Caregivers should preview this one, and be prepared to help.
[The developer of this app requested a Picky Kid review. No fees were paid.]Review: Pan: The Fearless Beribolt iPad app,
Pan: The Fearless Beribolt
Played on: iPad 2, iOS6