Picky Kid Rating: 2.9
In StoryBots Tap & Sing, you can make music and play songs with sixteen adorable robots. This is a simple game, but it’s well-done, especially the animations of the robots — they have a ton of personality! The free version is somewhat limited with only three songs, there’s a subscription option available if you want more.
When you first start the app, you’ll immediately see some of the fun animations. The splash screen has a short and engaging scene that will send you shooting down a pipe to start the game. There are several different ways this might happen! You’ll soon see two neat rows of colored robots waiting for your instructions. It reminds me of the classic plastic “Big Mouth Singers” piano toy from the ’80s — rainbow colors and all — and I have to believe this is intentional… The StoryBots have more personality than the plastic version though. While they’re waiting for you to begin playing, they get a bit fidgety. Some start looking around, scratching their noses, etc. But take your time! They’ll never rush you into deciding what to do.
You have several choices… The most obvious one is to start making your own music by tapping the robots. They do what you’d expect — play music notes in a chromatic scale based on their size. You can “play” more than one at once, thanks to multi-touch. We’ve been able to get ten of them to sing at the same time (yep, using all fingers!). Can’t say it sounds great, but it’s a fun challenge.
You can also play a song by selecting it from the list along the bottom of the screen (swipe left or right to see all songs). The free version of the app comes with three songs: Mary Had a Little Lamb, Row (Row, Row) Your Boat, and This Old Man. You can unlock all songs (it appears there are eleven total) with a $4.99 in-app purchase, but only for a month. For us, the three free songs are sufficient. When you select a song, an eager robot will raise its hand and light up, as if to say “tap me, tap me!” And what do you know?! When you tap the eager robots in order, you’ll play the right notes for the song! Of course, the rhythm will unlikely be perfect. They’re also an autoplay function that you can activate any time a song is selected. Just tap the “Autoplay” button in the upper right to hear the robots sing/play the song correctly.
Another button in the upper left allows you to change how the robots sing; you can choose Bum, La, Do-Re-Mi, or C-D-E to make them sing different syllables. The currently selected voice is highlighted in white. It’s difficult for kids to change the voice by themselves because the cues are all written, and also because of the white highlighting. It feels like you should select the bright thing — so B often selects the same voice that’s currently playing.
In general though, this app is easy and intuitive to use. Small pictures next to the written song names help non-reading kids make their selections. There is a small settings icon in the lower left just above the song selection menu. Tapping this will bring up an area with several different screens where you can learn more about the StoryBots and other apps, view your account (for in-app purchases) and get help. This area is chock-full of links. Many are protected by parental controls (a little math problem must be solved before you can continue), but the app store links are not. One problem with the parental controls is that you can’t always exit out of them if you accidentally tapped something you don’t actually want to go to. There’s a little x to tap — but it doesn’t consistently work.
If you have the free version of the app, you’ll see an option in the songs menu to “Get More Songs.” Tapping this will bring up the My Account screen of the settings area, where you can “Join Now” to get 30 days of access to all StoryBots content for $4.99. This membership idea is an interesting concept — of course you’d get the most value out of it if you had all the StoryBots apps to access the content. Since we have just Tap & Sing, we’d rather pay around $1.99 to get the extra songs forever.
This app’s strongest aspect is the animation of the robots. They are really adorable and engaging! It’s amazing how much personality such a simple shape can have… the animation team really nailed it! There’s also a very clever way to keep the noise from getting totally annoying. Just try to make them hold a note forever (we dare you!)…
You’ve really got nothing to lose by downloading StoryBots Tap & Sing. At the very least, you’ll have fun playing with the robots and reminiscing about the Big Mouth Singers. If you have lots of other StoryBots apps in your collection, you might consider the $4.99 per month subscription. For us though, it didn’t seem worth it just to temporarily add more songs to Tap & Sing.
[The developer of this app requested a Picky Kid review. No fees were paid.]Review: StoryBots Tap & Sing iPad App,
Storybots Tap & SIng
Played on: iPad 2, iOS6
- JibJab Media
Price: Free, with in-app purchase to access all songs ($4.99/month)