You may have seen virtual play house apps before where children can drag characters around different scenes and have them interact with different items. Toca Town does all of this with not just a room or a house, but a whole town. Along with different buildings, rooms and environments to explore, a bit of Toca Boca Magic has been added to create some wonderful surprises.
- Settings include a grocery store, restaurant (with commercial kitchen), two different types of home with multiple rooms, a park and a police station.
- Characters – When you enter most locations, you will find one or two characters, but you can add more characters to the scene. If you have other Toca Boca apps, you will have fun recognising some of the characters you have met in previous apps.
- Explore – Open cupboards and fridges to see what is inside: you can take things out and put them away. Characters can eat and drink any of the food, and carry or wear any if the items you find. Change the lighting by switching lights on or off, or opening curtains and blinds.
At any time you can reset the app to the original settings with restocked cupboards and shelves, and characters back in their original places.
Bits of Toca Boca Magic
I’m not going to give away all the secrets of Toca Town, as much of the fun is in discovering things for yourself, but here are just a couple of hints:
- A crime has been committed, and you will find some of the evidence around the town. There is still a big mystery to solve, and children might find the answer as they explore the town.
- In the restaurant’s commercial kitchen, you will see just a couple of recipes on the wall. These are not the only foods you can make, so experiment to see what else is possible. If you run out if food, don’t worry: you can go shopping. (The Masterchef Mystery Box has nothing on this!) The commercial kitchen is not the only place you can cook.
- If you give a character something to hold, it will still be holding that item if you bring the character into another scene. Send your characters to the supermarket, fill up a bag with groceries, and bring them to another place.
- Going to a party? The store has a complimentary gift wrapping service.
- There is different music available in each scene. Recognise any of the tunes?
- Even the cheeky elemental characters from Toca Lab make an appearance, but I’m not going to tell you where: you have to find them yourself.
I love the way Toca Town lets the child direct the action. There are lots of things to discover, with little hints here and there, but nothing that dictates the action. The creative play this app inspires gives lots of opportunities for language development. A child might simply explore the town to begin with but then move on to creating stories such as a birthday party, perhaps at the restaurant. Use your device’s buttons to take some screen shots so you can add text and/or narration in another app.
Want to see the app in action? Check out this YouTube video from Toca Boca. (If you watch carefully, you might see some secrets I haven’t mentioned revealed!)
I don’t usually have a wish list for Toca Boca apps (except for more apps, which they continue to do) but in this case I’d love a screen shot function tucked in a corner of the screen somewhere to save pictures to my device’s camera roll (and the option to turn this off) so they can be used to make stories in other apps. You can take screen shots with your device’s buttons, but this is a bit awkward for some children.
I’d also like to be able to restock the shelves of the grocery store once all the food has been eaten without having to reset.
UPDATE: 24 JULY 2014 Version 1.1
Today’s version has some great features added. You used to be able to drink from glasses and bottles that were already full, but now you can refill the glasses and cups, and you can refill the cups and bottles from the water cooler and the kitchen tap, plus another couple of containers that I’ll leave you to discover for yourself. You can now have a bottomless cup of coffee, and you will never run out of juice or milk again. The dog can now eat, drink and wear hats. The app now supports iPod Touch 3rd Generation. I still can’t restock the grocery store, but I’m loving these new changes.
Toca Town is an app that will engage your children and entertain them as they explore this magical little world and direct the action. My children love it and the older children enjoy spending time time with their younger siblings playing. It is the perfect app for some creative play. I highly recommend it.
Publisher: Toca Boca
Price: $3.79 (Australian Dollars)