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We Discover Wildlife: Forest Quest – An inclusive family game from Kindermatica

19 Jun

Forest Quest app iconBrand new in the iTunes store this week is the second app in Kindermatica’s board game series.  My family love the Safari Quest game, the first in the series, so we were very excited to try We Discover Wildlife: Forest Quest.

Playing the Game

Like the Safari Quest game, Forest Quest is played just like a regular board games (although without the risk of losing dice, counters and cards.) You spin the dice then your counter moves the along the path.  You may land on a question, a surprise, a penalty, take short cut, or take a photo of some wildlife.  Successfully answering a question wins the player tools that may help them avoid penalties or take shortcuts elsewhere in the game.  The object of the game is to collect photos of seven different animals as you move around the board, then be the first to reach the end of the game. If you pass animals without taking a photo, don’t worry as there are opportunities to collect these photos later in the game.

Players need to select from 2, 3 or 4 players.  You can then set the icon for each player (male, female or computer), a colour, and the difficulty level for the quiz questions (easy, medium, hard). This means that your littlest family members can play on an equal setting with their older siblings or parents.  We have played with the computer and found that it misses the odd question just like a “real” player might.  We found the questions to be just the right challenge for each level.  There is no time limit for answering questions, and this allows players to think about and discuss their answers before committing.  There are some unfamiliar plants and animals (at least for we Aussies – but I’d imagine there are some surprises for everyone) and it might be handy to keep a pencil and paper close to hand to jot down things you might want to research later.  Trust me: your children will want to find out more.

The board has a wonderful 3D effect, so it feels like you are walking through the forest with your player. Each player sees the board from their own perspective, and so the little search icon in the lower right corner will give you a birds-eye view of the board any time you wish to see where everyone is on the board.  When taking photos, you can even move your photo shot around to find the best view.

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Features

  • Customising – Adjusting levels to cater for different ability levels makes this game ideal for families with children of different ages, and an inclusive game to play in a classroom where some children may have disabilities or learning difficulties.
  • Artwork – The 3D graphics are wonderful and the game interface continues the theme with wooden textures on the questions and game controls.  Even the instruction page has that “aged map” look to it.  As mentioned above, the 3D graphics make it feel like you are walking through the forest with your player pieces.
  • Two to Four players – You can play against the computer or against up to 3 other players.
  • Educational Content – The game is a bit of “education by stealth.” By this I mean that you can learn a lot while playing the game, but it is so much fun that kids may not pick up that it is an educational app.
  • Instructions – Tap the information icon on the main page, or access via the settings button in the top right corner at any time for a comprehensive guide to playing the game.
  • Game continuance – If you close the app before you finish a game, you have the option of completing that game the next time you open the app, or you can start a new game.
  • Multiple language support – The game supports speakers of Russian, English, German and Swedish.
  • Safety – Kindermatica is a member of Moms with Apps, so you know what is inside your app, or rather, what is NOT inside your app. There is no collection of personal information, no 3rd party apps, no in-app purchases, and any links for more information are hidden behind parental locks.

Wish List

I’d love some fact sheets or information links about the different flora and fauna covered in the questions.  I also want more games in the series, but I know for a fact that there are others in the pipeline.

Verdict

Families and schools will love these inclusive games that allow children to learn about Science and Nature in a fun way. Aimed at children aged 6-8, it is suitable for all ages and ability levels.   The huge number of questions (over 350) cover a range of plants and animals of the forest, and  children will be motivated to find out more away from the game.  I would imagine teachers who are looking at different ecosystems will find Forest Quest (and other games in the series) to be a great resource.  Those of you planning long holiday car trips might like to install this and Safari Quest on your iPads for children to play while they travel as it works brilliantly as a pass-and-play game.


Publisher: Kindermatica
Universal. Requires iOS 6.0 or above.
Price $3.79

Lasso Kid – Logical thinking games with a Christmas bonus

4 Dec

lasso kidLasso Kid is a free logical thinking puzzle game from Kidcore Network that is aimed at young children but that  older children and even adults will find entertaining and challenging. Today I’m reviewing the iPad version of the app, but there is an iPhone version as well that has all the same features.

Poor Lasso Kid!  While he was sleeping, his animals escaped and he needs to catch them and rope them together.  You need to tether similar animals to a peg, trying not to run the rope through obstacles, and making sure ropes don’t cross each other.  The first few levels are fairly simple and are designed to introduce the main concepts of the puzzle, but later they get a little more complex with more animals, different types of animals (only similar animals can be joined together), more obstacles and more tether pegs.

 

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Continue reading

9 Letters

20 Nov

9 Letters App iconI am a big fan of word puzzles and usually have one or two on my iPad to do in those times where I’m doing that universal Mum thing:  waiting for my children to finish school or whatever activity they are doing.  I love word games and puzzles because they help keep my brain active, and my favourite are anagram games, particularly the 9 letter puzzles, so I was very excited to hear PKCLsoft was developing 9 Letters, and even more delighted when I was given a copy to review.  PKCLsoft is an independent Australian developer and a member of MOMs with apps.

 

How It Works

9 Letters is exactly what the name suggests: a game with 9 letters that you use to make as many words as you can.  The rules are simple:

  • Each letter can only be used once (although if the same letter appears more than once, you can use it as many times as it appears)
  • Words must be a minimum of 3 letters long.
  • Longer words score more points

In the top left of the screen is a pop out table with the total number of words you have found, plus a table indicating how many words of each length can be found.  In the example below, for instance, I have found 14 of 19 three-letter words, 3 of 9 six-letter words, and neither of the single eight or nine letter words.  You can tap on the table to hide or reveal it.  A running score is kept as you play.

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Options

There are several options to make the game easier, harder or more accessible, which can be turned on or off in settings.  These include:

  • Target mode – the central letter must be used in every word (usually a standard rule in similar games but optional here).  When target mode is on, the central letter is darkened.
  • Hint every ten words
  • Highlight valid words (a word appears green if it is valid)
  • automatic detection of ‘s’ endings (if you type a word and there is an available s to pluralise it, both words will be added to the list.)
  • apply time limit for each word
  • Sound effects and music can be turned on or off.
  • An alternative font is available
  • Display lower case letters

You can see how the game works in this YouTube video.


Apart from the free hints every 10 words, prompts occasionally appear to offer you the chance to buy a 7 letter word or a hint via your iTunes account.  I haven’t bothered with these but enthusiasts may.  Of course, your iTunes password is required to make a purchase, and you can prevent unauthorised in-App purchases (IAPs) but turning this option off in your device settings.

Things I love

The game is as fast or as slow as you want – If you turn the timer off, you can sit with a word as long as you like. Personally, I like the challenge of working against a timer, and I usually am playing during a quick break so that works better for me.

The huge variety of 9 letter words – I have several of these games and I enjoy them all, but for most I keep coming across the same letter combos all the time.   I’ve played 9 Letters for nearly a fortnight at every available opportunity (because I love to be thorough when putting apps through their paces for reviews….. and because it is addictive!) and not once have I come across a repeated word.

New vocabulary – While I recognise most of the 9 letter word solutions, some of the words are unfamiliar to me. I’m enjoying learning new words such as  empyreans and multiplet.  I’m pleased to hear that a future update will allow you to get definitions of words.  Lots of smaller words are unfamiliar, so if you put together what you think are nonsense words, sometimes you come up with a winner.

Handoff Feature – 9 Letters supports Handoff, Apple’s new continuity feature, so you can start a game on your iPhone but then transfer the same game to your iPad later.  You can see how it work’s in PKCLsoft’s demo YouTube video below.

 

Wish List

Definitions – This one is already in the pipeline, and I can’t wait to be able to link quickly to definitions of words.  I’m hoping this will not only apply to the larger words but some of the smaller words too.

Colour choices – The colour scheme is high contrast which is great, but I’d love the option to change it to my favourite colour – blue.  Not a biggie, but it would be nice.

Difficulty options – I’d love to be able to make the game harder (or not) by having an option to have a 4-letter minimum word length.  The 3-letter minimum is great, as most other games start at 4, but it would be fun.  Also, perhaps the option to reject the plural s, so that book would count, but books wouldn’t, (unless the central letter was an s).

Verdict

I love this game and it has become my “go-to” game when I’m having a break.  I’m enjoying the variety of words, the challenge level and learning new words.  Being able to turn off the target letters and time limits will make the game a little more user-friendly for some who might like to play word games but find most a bit difficult.  Scrabble and Boggle lovers will be sure to love it.

Secret Santa season is coming up and if you have a friend of family member who is in to word games, you could gift them a copy and I’m sure it would be much appreciated.  9 Letters is only in its first version and it is already wonderful, so I look forward to the future updates.
9 Letters - pkclSoft
Publisher: pkclSoft
Price:  $1.29 (Australia – 99 cents USA) until 26th November 2014, then $2.49.
iPad and iPhone (requires iOS 7.0 or later)

 

 

Are we there yet? Holiday car travel with iPads

23 Jun
Are we there yet? I want out of this car.

Are we there yet? I want out of this car. (Photo credit: Beverly & Pack)

Our mid-year school holidays are upon us here in Queensland, with other states due for holidays also.  My family hasn’t planned any big trips away, but last holidays we took our 6 children interstate on a 2-day journey each way.  One thing I love about long car trips is that it is a chance for my family to be together (albeit by force!) for chats, stories and songs, marvelling at the scenery we pass. I actually love the time, and my worst nightmare would be for my children to spend the entire journey with their noses in electronic devices.  That being said, I’m no Luddite and when we went on our trip, we took the iPod and our 2 iPads with us for the journey.  I thought I’d share some of the things that made life easier on the trip. Continue reading

Word games Part 1: Word Search

12 Jun
Wordsearch

Wordsearch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Playing games with words is not only fun but can help your children (and you) to practice spelling and to develop your vocabulary. Personally, I love word games and always have some on my iPad.  This post is focussing on just one type:  Word Search, a.k.a Find-a-word, Word Seek, Word Find and others. I think we are all familiar with these puzzles: highlight words hidden in a letter grid.  Since all the puzzles work the same way, I’m going to focus on features such as word lists and various options you might find handy.    Forgive me if I don’t mention the game that has Weapons as one of its word lists, along with others that had some dodgy spelling and grammar before you even got to the puzzles.  The ones here are some of the better ones. Continue reading

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