Picky Kid Rating: 3.9
In Shiny Party, your goal is to help a monkey and zebra prepare a surprise party for their giraffe friend. As you help them, you’ll learn about colors and shapes. There are two ways to play: Story Mode or Game Mode. You’ll find a few extra surprises along the way in the story!
When you first start the app, you’ll see a brief animation, then land on a start screen. There’s an obvious start button — a large yellow circle in the middle of the screen with a blue arrow on it. In the bottom left, you’ll find settings where you can turn the music and narration on or off. In the top left, there’s a “For Parents” area which explains the learning theories behind Shiny Party, and allows access to rate the app, Facebook and other apps by the developer. To get into either the For Parents area or the settings, you’ll need to be able to follow written instructions — so these are well protected for kids.
When you push the big yellow start button, you’ll come to a home screen, where you can choose between Story Mode and Game Mode. The choices have pictures to help kids make a selection. You can probably guess the difference between the modes — Story Mode puts the activities in the context of a story, while Game Mode allows you to pick whichever activity you want to play.
In Story Mode, you’ll be introduced to Alice and Charlie (the zebra and monkey), who are preparing a surprise party for their friend Ralph the giraffe. A narrator reads words at the bottom of the page as the words highlight (nice touch!), and many elements in the picture above are tappable. You can also tap a word to hear it repeated. You will need to tap the forward arrow to continue the story (pages don’t turn by themselves). Activities are interspersed with the story. You’ll know you’ve come to one when there’s a pulsing start arrow in the picture. You don’t have to do the activity to continue the story — you may skip an activity by tapping the forward arrow to turn the page.
If you choose to do an activity, you’ll get a “sticker” when it’s done, and the opportunity to replay or continue the story. If the activity is too difficult or to boring, you may return to the story without completing it by tapping the home icon in the upper left of the screen. This threw me for a loop — I thought this would take me to the home screen, which is what this button does in other parts of the app (a back arrow would be more intuitive).
The activities you’ll encounter in the story and in Game Mode are:
Find a Shape – First, shapes are defined by the number of sides they have. Then, you’ll be asked to find all of a certain shape in the picture. Beware – “find” actually means “color in” (by rubbing), but that won’t take you too long to figure out!
Build a Cupcake – (the most popular in our house). Make cupcakes by picking a liner, cake, frosting, sprinkles and a topper. The first cupcake you can make however you want. After that a model is given to match. Some colors of brown are very similar… if you get something wrong, you’ll need to try again.
Shape Puzzles – Drag shapes into puzzles where they fit. When you tap or drag a shape, the narrator will tell you what you’re working with — e.g. “Red Triangle”. When a puzzle is finished, it will animate, and you’ll get a new puzzle.
MatchBlitz Jr. – Find objects that are the same shape and color. When you find a match, tap one of them. This is a simplified version of MatchBlitz (reviewed earlier here)
Story mode has a couple of other minor puzzles to solve — you can hide Alice and Charlie so that they can surprise Ralph when he comes in. You can also yell “surprise” to turn on the lights to surprise Ralph. (If you don’t, the next page is a bit abrupt!) You can help Ralph blow out the candles on his cake — though a kid may have trouble with this one since you need to blow right at the microphone. (I’ve not mentioned this to B. The less she has to turn the iPad, the less likely it will be dropped!) At the end of the story, you can take your picture with the gang. We cannot get this to work, though it’s possible I didn’t allow it to access our photos at one point, and now can’t figure out how to turn it back on…
The design and look of this game is relatively clean and straightforward. The animals and objects are nicely and consistently illustrated. They have a flat feel and are simply but effectively animated. The narrator (in English only) is a friendly adult female voice. You can get the voiceover to talk over itself in the shape puzzle scene with some weird effects. The music is annoying if this game is played for very long. It’s quieter during activities, but a bit obnoxious on the home screen. Of course, you can turn it off if you want. Other sound effects are just right.
Overall, Shiny Party is a well-done and engaging game for toddlers learning shapes and colors. The variety of activities allows for diversity and challenge that help this game’s lasting appeal. We’d love to see more puzzles and shape pictures added to help even more!Review: Shiny Party iPad App,
Shiny Party - Shapes & Colors
Played on: ipad 2, iOS6
- Shiny Things