A Build-and-Play App
This app is part puzzle and part an open sandbox for underwater exploration. Both modes are available from the get-go.
In the puzzle mode, kids tap and then drag items from the upper corner to the main playspace to create things like a coral reef, a herring fish, and an orca whale. In addition, they can choose to construct a boat and a submersible to pilot around the ocean.
This puzzle play consists of matching items to grayed-in outlines within a scene. For the coral reef, kids will be adding sponges, coral, and a wide variety of fish. When they correctly place a fish in its spot, the narrator announces its name and it immediately animates; so the puffer fish will puff up if tapped, and the angelfish will bob and blink an eye.
With the herring and orca, kids drag body parts to the outline, so they learn about fins, gills, scales, and such. The boat and submersible are a little more whimsical, as cute cartoon characters inhabit the cabins.
Open Sandbox Mode
While the five puzzle options are found on the top of the main screen, the rest presents an inviting ocean scene to explore. Kids can use their finger to move the water up, effectively diving underwater to explore what is living there. They have three areas to investigate: the coral reef, the main ocean surface, and deep in the ocean's depth. The music changes at each location as does the marine life with which you can interact. Don't miss swiping up over the dolphin to make it leap out of the water and sprinkling food in the water to have a mass of fish arrive.
The puzzle play of matching an object to an outline is perfect for kids as young as preschool; but it will also appeal to older kids because the fish are so interactive. We like the pattern that for each fish introduced, the narrator announces its name. And by putting together reefs, fish, mammals, and boats, kids learn the parts and makeup of a variety of ocean-based things.
In the open play part of MarcoPolo Ocean, we like that kids can add more fish or marine animals to the scene. And the ability to feed them is brilliant and fun. The creepy sounding music of the ocean's depth adds to its mystery, as kids see and add fish that glow in the dark.
We would have liked to have players hear the name of the fish when they added them to the open exploratory ocean. It seemed like a missed learning opportunity in this otherwise fantastic ocean app.
MarcoPolo Ocean bubbles with fishy fun as kids get exposed to over 30 types of fish and marine animals. It will appeal to any child in the target age of 3 to 7.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.