Play After-school Games with Arthur and Friends
Kids join Arthur and his friends Buster, Francine, and Muffy as they have fun doing things together after school at familiar locations around Elwood City. Arthur's Big App randomly generates one of four mini-games to play; and winning each earns the player a star. Winning five stars unlocks one of 50 collectible characters from the TV show's 18-year history.
As you succeed at winning the mini-games, they get progressively harder. Each mini-game has 15 possible levels. However, if you fail to win a mini-game, you don't earn a star, and you lose one of five lucky pencils. When all your lucky pencils are gone, the game is over, and you start again, back at the first level of difficulty in all of the mini-games.
The four mini-games that randomly present themselves are:
- Buster's Smoothie Game: Set at the Sugar Bowl, players look at the customers' requested ingredients, as shown in their speech bubble, and then move the requested ingredients from the grid of 16 bins to the blender and push "Blend." The key to winning is to correctly fulfill the orders before time runs out. As the game gets harder, there are more orders, and those orders contain extra ingredients.
- Arthur's Music Game: Kids jam with Arthur and his buddies in the school's band room by playing the piano. Notes float down from the top of the screen and when they cross over the keys, players must tap the corresponding key. This game requires kids to correctly hit a certain number of notes.
- Francine's Tag Game: Just like in real freeze-tag, kids are tasked with tagging all of the players on the other side. Each team carries a colored flag. As the levels progress, more players join, and they move around faster.
- Arthur's Library Game: At the library, Arthur needs help shelving the books by color and fulfilling customers' requests. As the game gets harder, the number of books and requests increase in number.
App Analysis: Fun but Flawed
Each of the mini-games lets kids be social with the characters in Arthur's world. With the game about making smoothies, kids learn time management skills and use their memory to quickly locate the requested ingredients so that they can be the most efficient. The music game has an excellent interface for kids, to teach them rhythm and timing of music -- they simply tap on the note when it passes over the piano key. But this game gets challenging more quickly than the rest, and is likely to be one of the mini-games that uses up the lucky pencils. The same is true of the freeze-tag game. It eventually gets pretty tricky when you have to tap six players in this virtual team game. The library sorting game is a great way to put fast-thinking into a sorting exercise.
When players lose the five lucky pencils -- and they will, since two of the four games gets hard quickly -- players are likely to get frustrated at being sent back to the beginning level in each game. A better way to program Arthur's Big App would have been to let kids control the difficulty level of each of the activities so that they stay challenged and in control. Another negative is that the app only keeps track of one child's playing. Even with these flaws, Arthur fans will have fun playing after-school activities with their favorite aardvark.
The sweet spot for Arthur's Big App is ages 6 to 8. And it will be most fun for fans of the show.
This Arthur's Big App review was written by Jinny Gudmundsen.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.