Mystery Word Town is the latest app by Artgig Apps and is new in the iTunes Store today. The app is a spelling adventure where children play the detective tracking down members of the Huevos Rancheros Gang and recovering lost gold in a ghost town somewhere in the USA. Children enter and explore buildings, using their spelling skills as keys to enter areas.
If you have either Mystery Math Town or Mystery Math Museum, you’ll be familiar with the game play. You collect letters in each room or area of the building you are exploring and use them to complete words. The goal is to find the required number of gold nuggets indicated by a little pouch in the top right corner, and to find the room with a wanted poster of one of the gang. Exits from each room could be doors, windows, trap doors, ladders or even just looking up or down. If you are unsure of where you can go, a little ghost floats in each room and you can drag it around to highlight exits. You can tap on the floating letters in each scene to either complete the word or add them to your tool belt. Letters you don’t use in one room might be handy in another. As the levels increase in difficulty you may have to look in different rooms to collect the letters you need. Once you have completed your goals you can move on to the next building.
- Three Difficulty Levels – There are three word lists available within the app. The level 1spelling is about the level Mr 7 is bringing home with is weekly homework. The other two lists look to be middle-primary in level. Bearing in mind that Australia generally uses UK spelling, there was only one word in the app that we had issues with: favorite. In Australia and the UK, we spell this word as favourite. I find that when I highlight these things to my children, they have no problems.
- Audio Hint Mode – there are two modes to choose from:
- Spell Your Own Words – Players can use any letters to complete a partial word. There may be more than one option, and there are no audio hints. The correct word may not be in the word list but will be validated against an extensive dictionary.
- Listen & Spell – The incomplete word is spoken aloud as it appears on the screen. Children can hear the word repeated by tapping the sound icon in the word bubble.
- Individual Profiles – I love apps where you can set things up for each child in your family or class. Once you have created a profile, children can have a bit of fun creating an avatar by choosing hair, eyes/nose, mouth and skin tone (that can be a traditional tone, or any colour of the rainbow.) You can set the difficulty level for each child within their profile.
Things We Love
Some rooms have interactive portraits of characters and you can tap these to hear them talk. The portraits will say different things each time you tap them . The characters in the portraits might give out some clues as to what might be around the corner. The wanted posters are interactive too. I won’t give spoilers away, but Sting Bean proved to be a very interesting character.
The Artwork is excellent – With a name like Artgig, you would expect the art part of the app to be top notch, and it is. We love the mix of textures, photographs and drawings that make up the scenes.
The Town News displays the wanted posters of those villains you have already caught. Each of them has something further to day, and a fortune telling poster gives more hints about what might be coming up.
Built-in Success – If you get the wrong answer, you don’t end up with a big “Fail” or “You Lose” sign. No, you get to try again until you get it right with no penalties or public shaming.
There are not many things I’d add to the app, but to be picky, here are a few:
Reporting – I’d like to be able to see how each child is doing in the app. Checking the number of attempts they make and the letters that they use in each attempt would give me an idea of any common errors they were making and would guide how I would help that child.
Lockable settings – It is possible for children to change their word lists and auto hint mode, making it easier or harder for themselves. That might be fine for some, but I’d like to be able to lock children in to a particular level, so some sort of parent lock on the settings would be welcome.
Customisable wordlists – by this I mean the ability to add in my own word lists. This is just a pipe dream as I’m not sure how the developers could do that, and the three spelling lists in the game are quite large as it is. Besides, I have several spelling apps where I can do that already, although none are as fun as this one.
Mystery Word Town is aimed at children aged 6- 12 and I think the team at Artgig Apps have nailed it, but I’m not in the target demographic. Luckily, I have a 7 y.o. handy who has had a great time putting the app through its paces. (He liked it so much, I had difficulty extracting him from the game long enough to give me an opinion.) Mr 7 says:
It’s fun. The characters were funny and I liked exploring the buildings. I found it hard to find the gold sometimes but I kept looking and I found it all in the end. The best thing about the game is solving the puzzles by choosing the letters to finish the words. I think my teachers should download it to their iPads at school.
Artgig Apps have again come up with an app that is both entertaining and educational. I can see my children having lots of fun exploring those buildings while practicing their spelling. There is enough humour in the app to keep everyone, even parents, amused.
Publisher: Artgig Apps
Universal: Requires iOS 5.1 and above
Price: $3.79 (Aus)