Smash Your Food by Food N’ Me

Wouldn’t it be fun to smash a donut? Would you allow your children to smash foods if it didn’t involve a mess, didn’t waste food, and provided educational facts about the foods we eat?

Smash Your Food attempts to do just that. The game is fairly simple. You guess what the sugar, fat and salt content of a particular food item is, and then you use your finger to push down a metal plate onto the food. You can do it quickly or slowly. You get stars and carrots depending on how close you get to the real numbers or for doing certain activities in the game. These carrots and stars are then used to unlock other parts of the game. Each grouping of foods are stored in a fridge, and you need a set number of carrots to open the fridge.

The game also has health tips for the children, and for the parents about eating and making foods healthier.

The game elements are clean and well done. I found the fruit characters funny, but I can see how some might find them annoying (especially the sounds they make).

Sadly although I loved most of the app, I just couldn’t get past the idea that I had to purchase (with real money) carrots to continue. I understand that in-app purchases is one of the few mechanism to make money from an app, but an app that asks the age of the player and then prompts underage children to purchase carrots seems inappropriate. I would have been happier if I could purchase all the fridges for a set price, be it $2, $4 or even $5. Then I can hand over the game to my children and not worry about what the app will end up costing me.

If you can live with the in-app purchasing, then it is a fantastic app. Otherwise I would consider getting the fixed priced iPad version.

I reviewed the iPhone version (as prompted by the publisher). No Android version exists.

Dr. Morph’s Memo By Raketspel AB

Every app store is littered with matching memory games (including one I created about a year a go). All the ones I have tried consist of flipping cards that flip back if you can’t find the matching one. Dr. Morph’s Memo is also a matching game. This app has no cards and it has no flipping. Instead of cards the app has beautiful illustrated 3D boxes that drop from above at the start of the level. Clicking on a box causes one of the animals to pop out. Matching two boxes based on the animals that temporarily pop their heads out makes the boxes disappear, the animals to jump out of the box, and increases the volume of potion in the beaker (located on the top of the screen). Once the beaker is full, you are rewarded with one extra animal to match in future rounds. The game apparently has 100 different animals to win, and then match. You also get a gallery to view the animals that you have won already.

There are also other variations to the game. There is the ability to have a time limit to complete each level, and a variation where you only get three opportunities to match the angry-looking dogs.

So up to this point I have described the game play. The rest of the game is also outstanding. The graphics are unique, quirky and above average. The music although not varied is again quirky and very catchy.

Ultimately most of the apps that are reviewed on this blog, I end up deleting from my devices. There is only so much space, and we receive so many app review requests (many don’t end up getting reviewed). This app will probably stick around for a while. I love it. I am amazed that somebody took a tried and tired concept like a memory matching game and created such a unique experience. If you are looking for a memory matching game, you can’t go wrong with this app.

The app was provided by the publisher for free, and I tested it on a full size iPad. It has no in-game purchasing, no ads, and works offline. It is available only on the Apple App Store for $2.99.

iTooch Elementary School by eduPad Inc.

iTooch Elementary School app is a typical question and answer study aid for elementary students with an interesting twist.

The questions are very nicely written and presented. They are also clearly worded and easy to see. The questions are not all words and multiple choices. Some of the questions have pictures, graphs and other elements. Some of the elements even zoom when clicked. And some of them are answered by typing, and underlining.

You are able to pick particular topics out-of-order (as seen on the screenshots). The app keeps track of the students progress and all the questions have an info screen to provide you with detail about how to solve the problem. The actual app is free, but each of the subjects cost around $4.99. Fortunately all the current content allows you to try a few lessons before you buy.

And now for the twist. As an educator you are able to create content that will show up in the in-app store of the app. The educator creates the content using an online content creation tool (which I didn’t try). Then the profits of any sales of the particular book is shared with the content creator. This technically allows educators with neither the resources or knowledge to create apps to distribute content for a profit.

As usual my review would not be complete without my gripes. The questions are not read, so children that have not mastered reading but should be able to answer the question will need the questions read. Also I couldn’t find a way to handle multiple students other than resetting the entire app. When you reset the app, the score and progress is erased. This is problematic in households with more than one child in grade school and not one device per child. Hopefully these items are oversight on my part, and are existing (but well hidden) features of the app. Also I find it interesting that a Windows 8 version exists, but none for Android devices.

Overall the app is fantastic, and recommended as a study aid for students in grade school. I tested the free iOS version both on my iPad and iPhone.

Monster Physics by Dan Russell-Pinson

Dan Russell-Pinson’s apps are always a hit in our house. This one is no different. For my three children every single empty moment for the last few days has been filled either trying to solve the missions or making creations.

There are two main activity in the game. All activities consists of using parts. In missions you use the parts to solve a physics or design problem. The second activity consists of using the parts to create whatever you can imagine. All the parts of the game obey the laws of physics. The parts are also very varied: monsters, turbine, wings and many other items. You can also modify some of the parameters of the world or of the parts. For example you can change the speed at which a wheel turns or even the level of gravity that is applied to your world. A lot of the parts are interactive.

Each child gets the opportunity to create his or her profile. The progress and the machines they create are also stored on that particular profile.

Absolutely great game. I didn’t have any complaints and the kids have played countless hours since we purchased it a few weeks back. My oldest daughter doesn’t like the restriction of 50 pieces total for her invention (not sure what she is trying to construct with more than 50 pieces).

As usual the graphics are average but colorful and quirky. It also has decent sound effects. I reviewed the iPad version, and sorry no version exist for Android.

Compare A Twist by App of Approval, LLC

Compare A Twist is a study aid app. The game play consists of dragging items (either pictures or words) to the appropriate category. The set of items and the categories that go with those items is considered a lesson.

The game comes with a set of pre-made lessons, but the power of the app is in the ability to create your own lessons. Lessons could be created, saved and loaded from Google docs. The results of the lessons can be mailed. The report includes data like how many of the items were answered correctly and on what attempt. Teachers, parents and educators can create a generic Google account were they post the lessons and then the students can retrieve the lessons and send back the results.

The graphics are simple but adequate. The app provides audio and visual feedback when you select the appropriate category and when you don’t. When running a lesson you can also select the type of bucket (2 are available) to drop the items into.

I wish the app had the ability to create more than two categories. I can think of many lessons where more than 2 categories would be helpful. The Google log-in screen also does not have a back button. On two occasions, I ended up being stuck in the Google pages without being able to return to the app (had to quit and restart). I also wish the lesson report was in non-editable PDF format instead of text.

A very solid app. I reviewed the iPad version (provided by the publisher). I didn’t find an Android version.

Tap Times Tables by pkclsoft

Another drill app from pkclsoft (addition and subtraction drill app previously reviewed), this time for multiplication tables. Again the theme is squirrels trying to save acorns (for what I assume is the winter). In one of the mini games, the math problem is presented off the middle of the screen, and the child has to click on the bubble with the correct number inside. This time there is an animation of a squirrel shooting a nut with a catapult. As with the other drill app, clicking on the correct number increases the squirrel’s acorns reserves. After the child completes the drill you are able to send the results to a teacher or yourself via e-mail.

Before Selecting Correct Bubble

The app has average graphics, very confusing and convoluted option screens and extremely annoying squirrel voices (which gratefully you can turn off). Something I forgot to mention in the previous review is that I liked the music. I also like the fact that this version provides text boxes explaining patterns related to the multiplication tables being drilled (although I wish they remained on the screen a bit longer).

Option Screen for App

 

Remove the animal characters, the animal voices, the loosely tied theme and even the music (that I liked) and you end up with a very effective multiplication drill app. And in the end, I can’t complain about that.

Available on the Apple App Store for $2.99. The app is well worth the price. I reviewed it on my iPad, and the app was provided for free by the publisher.

Math Plus Minus by pkclSoft

Math Plus Minus by pkclSoft is an addition and subtraction drill app for iOS devices. The app is a collection of a couple of mini games. The sub story of these games squirrels trying to save acorns. The app presents you with a math problems and you have to pop the correct number bubble to solve the problems.

 

Math Plush Minus initial screen.

The app allows you to change the range of numbers, set up a timer, and even to include negatives numbers in the drills. As a math fact addition and subtraction drill app it is comparable or better than most online drill apps, with the exception that most allow you to send the results to the teacher. And this is my major gripe with this app, I can look past the average graphics, the cluttered options screen and the fairly annoying animal speech (it can be turned off). I can’t look past the fact that once a drill is completed, I couldn’t find a way to record how well the child did on that particular drill. I was informed by the publisher that the next version will include this feature.

Although still a drill app, overall not a bad app. None of my kids would play with this game without being asked, but some might play with it as an alternative to other types of drills.

Options Screenshot for Math Plush Minus App

 

Available on the Apple App Store, I reviewed it on one of my iPad (app provided by the publisher). I couldn’t find an Android version.

 

Magi Forest By Ola Games

Magi Forest is a puzzle game where you click on gems to drop animals into their nest. Upon dropping all the animals into their nest you can proceed to the next level.

The background and the characters are beautifully painted. The music is also very nice: not extremely annoying after extended play. There is also enough variations to keep the puzzles interesting (balloons, jellies and other game play variations).

The puzzles get progressively harder, and might get too hard too quickly for younger children. You are not allowed to proceed if any of the animals do not reach the nest (no partial credit). You can purchase the ability to skip a level: for .99 cents or by joining Alfa Circles and earning it (After signing up and logging into the site, I couldn’t figure out how to earn anything). If you don’t want random extra charges, I would recommend turning off in app purchases or telling your kids not to purchase a level.

Overall a pleasant, but not ground breaking puzzle game. If you don’t have enough of them on your tablet, wouldn’t mind another one, and you don’t mind the in-app purchase for skipping a level (or signing up and into a random site) this one can provide a hours of entertainment.

Available on the Apple App Store for 99 cents. I reviewed the iOS version on the iPad (provided by the publisher).

Awesome Upstander! by HealthTeacher, Inc.

Awesome Upstander! is a side scrolling 2D platform game (think of old school Mario). This platform game deals with bullies. By collecting objects and friends you are able to stand up to the bully at the end of the board.

The game re-enforces the idea that you can stand up to bullies if you bring enough friends. Some of the objects you collect also illustrate other things you can do. A phone could be useful for calling the school or a parent if you are about to be bullied. At the very least the game is a way to vent for children that are bullied, and maybe provide a game were they feel they have some control.

The game has some very minor problems. The game got a little repetitive for me (but not sure if this would hold true for a young children), and the burping sound when you eat fruit will probably get old for the parents (although provide hours of giggle for some kids and you can turn it off). I also had problems jumping at times, but as I have said in a few reviews my fingers aren’t that agile.

Overall how can you fault a 2D platform game where a kid that is being bullied comes up on top at the end of the level. I reviewed the iPhone version on my iPad (the app was provided for free by the publisher). An iPad and an Android version also exist. The app is available for $0.99, does not have an in-app store, and appears to work offline.

Hungry Fish by Motion Math

The concept is fairly simple but brilliant. A hungry fish floats about the screen while plants (or what look like plants to me) bubble numbers (bubbles with numbers in them). You join the bubbles together so that they match what the fish is hungry for (it is displayed on the body of the fish). The fish will come over and eat the bubbles. The more he eats the bigger the fish gets.

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The game is as entertaining as some of the most popular games on Android or Iphone, but with an educational twist. The action can also get frantic, especially for those that are not that finger nimble.

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Although technically a kid game, other people could enjoy it. Adults can brush up on their math facts and improve their reflexes.

The app is only available on the Apple App Store for free (it requires in app purchases to unlock subtraction, negatives and others math functions).