Picky Kid Rating: 3.2
Toca Band is an entertaining music app where kids (or adults, but we’re guessing it’s mostly the former!) can experiment with sound by assembling a “band” of characters to play a song. Engaging characters keep it fun for kids, but parents beware — the song can get annoying, and it goes on and on and on, so turn the volume down or get earplugs.
When you first open the app, you’ll briefly see a Toca Boca logo animation (this time, it turns into a sort of drum set) before coming to the start screen. The start screen is fairly simple to figure out. Push the pulsing arrow to start the game. (But, if you want, you can also check out the “For Parents” area, or tap a promo for a different app, before starting. Be forewarned: There’s no way to get back to this screen without completely closing out the app.)
When you start, you’ll see a three-tiered stage, with circles (that look like buttons) waiting for performers to fill them. At the bottom of the screen, beneath the stage, there’s a row of sixteen different characters waiting to perform. Be sure to swipe to see them all!
Each performer sings or plays in a different sound or style. You can guess at some of them (for example, the clock makes ticking and alarm noises), while others are a bit more obscure… What does a cat with marbles in its mouth sound like, exactly? Tap a character to hear a preview of their sound, or drag it to a space on the stage to hear it play. This will be different depending upon where you put it on the stage. When placed on the green circles on the first tier, most performers play (or sing) relatively slowly and simply. Move them to the red circles on the second tier and you’ll notice a pickup in tempo and complexity. Things get even faster and more complex when you move performers to the blue circles on the third tier… And, if you want, you can make someone the STAR by dragging them to the yellow circle on the highest point of the stage.
Placing a performer in the star position make him or her a soloist, and the screen will change solo mode, where you get to manipulate the performance by tapping or dragging. We think exploring what the different performers do in solo mode is the best part of the game. Some of them are quite simple, and even a little dull, like the spider who stomps her feet (is she clogging, perhaps?) when you tap her. But most are more complex and interesting. We especially like the accordion (you can change the chord and volume by dragging) even though it sometimes looks sad, and the spooky-sounding cat (try dragging several balls around at the same time). To get out of solo mode, tap the X in the top right.
There are seemingly endless ways you can set up the stage and performers. Some sound better than others, but regardless, the tune is only about a 4 measure long loop (if I counted right), so it gets old fast. B also likes to fill all the spaces on the stage immediately and at all times, bombarding us with a very full (um, too full) sound. This game lacks any natural “pause points” for kids to rest (and decide if they want to stop). I think it would be fun if there were a “grand finale” button or some way to make all the characters on the stage end their song at once (and preferably with some flair!).
The graphics are colorful and well-done, and the character animations are quite good. We love the small animations given to the characters as they wait beneath the stage to perform. It gives them lots of personality and adds interest the scene. And the sound… well, this app is all about sound! And individually, the sounds are fine, but we’d like the song to be less repetitive.
We’ve found Toca Band to be fun for a while, but with limited long(er)-term appeal, and a moderate to high annoyance factor. We’d likely change our tune (pun intended) if the song were less repetitive and if there were a way to gracefully end play.Review: Toca Band iPad App,
Played on: iPad 2, iOS5
- Toca Boca