Picky Kid Rating: 3.8
Zoo Train is a collection of five activities illustrated with trains and animals — two major toddler-pleasing subjects! The content for each activity is somewhat limited, which means there’s a fair amount of repetition. But overall, the app is well designed and easy for kids to navigate themselves.
- Puzzles, where kids drag and drop pieces onto dotted outlines to create a picture;
- Music, where we can pick four different songs to be played, or make our own music by tapping whistles;
- Train building, where kids put together a train by selecting (drag and drop) different engines and train cars — then a scene for the train to drive through;
- Spelling, where kids drag and drop letters to spell a word (“ghosted back” matching letters are provided as guides); and
- Track building, where kids must drag and drop train track pieces to a guide to create a continuous loop — essentially a more difficult puzzle. Kids under 3 may have trouble with this one.
Activities are selected via large icons from a home screen. It’s simple and easy for kids to navigate and select what they want. There’s a “knob” in the lower right of the home screen that promotes the developer’s other apps. It’s subtly tucked away and hasn’t interrupted our game play. There are no options.
The graphic style is cute — but not overly so — flat graphics without much texture. We like the variety of backgrounds in the train-building activity. There are urban, suburban, farm and waterfront scenes. The voiceover (American English) is upbeat and childlike, and the sound effects consist of (not surprisingly) train whistles, wheel screeches and engine noises. There is no general background music.
This app has particularly nice payoff scenes. For example, when a track is successfully completed in the track-building activity, a little train runs through all of it. Another thing we like is that there are “pauses” built into all activities. In the puzzles, spelling and track-building activities, the pause come in the form of a sticker rewards — kids can pick a sticker to drag onto a suitcase.
The drawbacks are: limited content — for example, there are only ten puzzles which means a lot of repetition; occasional technical glitches, primarily in the puzzle game (where an object appears to be somewhere it isn’t — quite frustrating!); and the train-building activity is too much like a video game.
Review: Zoo Train iPad App,
Played on: iPad 2, iOS4
- Busy Bee Studios