Picky Kid Rating: 2.9
We’ve been talking about emotions with B a lot lately, and we got Peek-a-Zoo because the description in the app store said it would help practice identifying things like “angry,” “surprised,” and “crying”. This, it does. You’re also asked to identify things like “Who is trying to hide?”, “Who is wagging his tail?” and “Who is [such and such animal]?” The game is cute, but limited.
The game’s opening screen introduces the twenty or so animal characters. Like many apps from developer Duck Duck Moose, the opening screen is interactive. As the animals parade (actually, it’s more like shuffle) by, you may tap to enlarge them and hear them introduce themselves (e.g. “Hi, I’m Harry the Hippo.”). While this happens, the first letter of the animal’s name appears in the background. A nice touch, but it’s very subtle and I’m not sure that kids would ever notice it.
The opening screen also includes a toggle for background music (orchestra string and guitar versions of classical children’s songs), a promo for other apps by the developer, and a button to start the game. The start button is small in comparison to the promo area; making it bigger would improve this screen.
Once started, the point of the game is to tap the animal identified by the prompt, which is written and spoken (in American English only). You may tap the words to hear the prompt again. You’ll either be asked to identify an animal by its name, or to identify an animal by what it’s doing. Most two-year olds will be able to fairly easily identify the animals by name, except for the “squirgle”, which is some sort of alien squirrel, and the panda who looks more like a badger (it’s missing black spots around the eyes).
There are about twenty different actions to identify. Some are fairly straightforward, such as “upside-down”, “eating” and “listening to music”. Others are more subtle, such as “surprised” and “cross-eyed”. Still others are a bit hard to figure out, like “Who is dressed up?”, which can throw kids off because the animal might be wearing a tie, or sunglasses. When the correct selection is made, the animal spins into the middle of the screen and makes an appropriate noise. You can hear all the animals’ noises (whether or not they’re the correct selection) simply by tapping them. Some of the noises are quite fun, so try tapping and looking for surprises!
Speaking of surprises, keep your eye on the elephant. Occasionally, you’ll see it doing something (pictured above). Surprisingly to me, B hasn’t noticed yet (after 2+ months of play)! She did notice that the telephone prop used to identify “Who is calling?” sometimes turns into a banana.
The app is simply designed, with the animal characters drawn in a flat style. They’re cute, but not overly so. One design problem is that the same color palette is used for the animals and backgrounds. So occasionally parts of an animal disappear. It’s especially odd when the lion’s mane blends in with the brown background. A simple outline or color shift for the background would easily solve this problem.
This app’s biggest drawback is that it becomes boring. While there are enough animals and actions to identify, the task of doing so eventually loses its appeal. This game would be improved with a few more ways to find what you’re looking for, or some “breaking points” built into the play.Review: Peek-a-Zoo iPad App,
Played on: iPad 2, iOS4
- Duck Duck Moose