Saturday, May 29, 2010

Review: "Mandy & Andy - The Seasons" for iPhone

Laura Terbrack is back with a Tech Review of a kids iPhone game. Check it out....

I was asked by FREEISMYLIFE to do a review of the Mandy and Andy – The Seasons game for the iPhone. The game was acquired via the iTunes App Store using a free code for redemption, provided by the authors of the game.
I want to start by clarifying that this is not just a game, even though that is what it is labeled in the iTunes App Store. It’s part book, part game. There are two ways to read the story that comes with the game. The first way is to press the “Read to me” button. If you select this option, the game reads the story to you. It takes you through multiple screens, allowing you to press a button on the iPhone interface to move to the next screen once the game reads the entire page. It’s very intuitive, since the button is in the shape of an arrow. The authors make good use of the iPhone interface for the transition.

The second way to read the story is by pressing the “I read myself” button. When you press this, you see the same as you did by pressing the “Read to me” button, but your child will actually read the words of the story himself/herself. My son James tested this game for me and enjoyed working his way through the story. The only thing I would do differently in the “I read myself” section is add an option that allows the child to touch the word to have it pronounced for them. My son is in the first grade and had trouble with some of the words, so this option would have been ideal.

When I pressed the “More books” button, this part was not as intuitive. There are headings that say “Become Andy and Mandy fan!” and “More Books”. There is nothing on this screen that allows me to access more books. There is a button titled “Sign now!” which seems to mean that I need to use it sign up to become a Andy and Mandy fan. When I pressed the button, a pop up form appeared asking for my contact information. I would rework this screen a bit and make the options easier to understand.

Back on the home page of the game, there is another button called “Tasks”. When pressed, it allows your child to play a matching game or a game where they can fill in a picture with colors (think the iPhone version of coloring). The matching game shows leaves on the ground and your child gets to match the pairs. My son liked this game, but didn’t like the delay when the correct pairs were moved to the top of the screen. He wanted to immediately press another pair, which didn’t work during the transition of the leaves from the ground to the top of the screen. He really enjoyed the part of the game that let him shake the phone to get new leaves. I had trouble getting my iPhone out his hands because he really liked shaking the phone!

Laura's son and game tester
The Mandy and Andy game comes in languages besides English. In the version I acquired (normally $1.99) from the iTunes App Store, there was English, French, Spanish, German, and Japanese. Overall, I think the game has some solid concepts. I think to be a real hit, the authors of the game need to add more Tasks and perhaps lengthen the story. My son only played with the game for about 10 minutes before he got bored, but he would have kept playing had there been more options like the leaf game where he could shake the phone. Another factor is that my son is 7 years old. I think this game is definitely geared for the preschool set, so a child who is 3-4 will probably get more out of this game then he did.

Laura Terbrack is a wife, mother of two and a self-professed tech goddess. In addition to her busy job as an IT professional, Laura is a contributor to FREEISMYLIFE and just started her own blog called "Laura in the Motor City". Follow her on Twitter at @lauramotorcity.


Post a Comment