Tag Archives: games

Lego Apps I Like

Lego Minifig Army

I like Legos—always have. Lately I enjoy getting all my minifigs out, equipping them with weapons and lining them up as if getting them ready for battle (yep, those are mine in the photo above).

But in addition to the incredible fun a person can have with the physical Legos, I notice an increasing number of Lego-themed apps for the iPhone and iPad. I’ll discuss a few of these, and if you know more about some of the others (a quick search in the Apple App Store brought up nearly two hundred of ’em), let me know in the comments.

There are at least two dozen official Lego apps, but the only one of these I’ve tried is Lego Creationary. My kids love this fast-paced game. You start by rolling the dice (drag it to the edge of the screen and ‘flick it’ back across) and what you roll becomes the category (nature, objects, buildings, vehicles, random and double-point random). Next (to play), the game starts  building something with Lego bricks and you must choose one of four possible answers (through cartoon drawings) to guess what it is before the object is built. You’ll get more points if you can guess correctly early. My kids especially enjoyed this when we first got the iPad (a year ago) because neither one of them was reading well at the time, so this was a game we could all play together. Plus, it’s free!

Another one I downloaded recently is Lego Instruct. This is a fairly basic app that shows you step-by-step how to build stuff out of your existing bricks. A few instructions are included with the download of the app, and you can get more just by choosing “add more items…” from the main menu. Simple and clean illustrations and steps make it easy to put those bricks to good use. Pretty cool! The developer is Artel Plus, and this app is also free (but displays ads along the bottom edge of the screen). There’s also an Android version which I’ve downloaded, but haven’t spent much time with yet.

BrickPad is similar to Lego Instruct, but has a couple of really nifty features that set it apart. Not only does it include instructions for building new models with your old Legos, but you can rotate a model (and therefore view it from all angles) just by dragging your finger over one of them. Very cool! Also free in the App Store.

My daughter just walked by, saw what I was doing and asked if I’d download the Lego Ninjago apps for her to play with. I’ll let you know how she likes those too. Did I miss any of your favorite Lego apps? Let me know in the comments. Happy building!

Apps I Like: Two French Apps

While the rest of the world was in England last week for the royal wedding, I was in the French Alps! er, I mean Apps. I had a chance to try out two nifty French-themed kids apps, and I think you’ll like them too.

Word Wagon by Duck Duck Moose

Word Wagon: Kids spell words by dragging the letters in place.

The first app is Word Wagon by Duck Duck Moose, an award-winning developer of educational game apps for kids. This app is all about spelling words and is designed for youngsters just learning to read. A cute little rodent named Mozz lives under the Eiffel Tower (and he wears a beret!). He and his bird friend Coco guide kids through each word.

I really liked the artwork, French-themed music and animation, and I also like the fact that the letters are mentioned by name and pronounced as they should sound in the word. When the word is formed correctly, it is spoken and then the word is collected in the wagon.

Kids can see how many words they’ve formed, and along the way they collect stars which can be used to form constellations. There are four levels of difficulty in the app, which is nice because each of my two kids can enjoy the app at their own ability level.

While definitely an educational app, Word Wagon is well designed and makes learning spelling and phonics fun. It’s $1.99 and is designed for the iPhone, although it looks great at 2x on my iPad.

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GoKids Apps: Save Paris! is a clever app for older kids by Fun Educational Apps. You are tasked with saving Paris from evil alien invaders who are focused on ‘Glooping’ everything in sight!

Your mission is to learn about France and Paris, and then use your new knowledge by pairing facts with their definitions in a match card game. If you miss too many it’s Game Over. If not, you’ll be rewarded with a fun ‘whack-a-mole’ game, where the object is to tap on the aliens as fast as they pop up.

I admit I went through only the first three missions of ten. The material covered is wonderfully comprehensive and includes geography, language, culture, history and more. This would be a fantastic resource for kids 8-12, especially those who are visiting France, taking French or doing a unit on France in geography or history class. But the alien invasion theme and the game action would probably draw kids back just for that aspect of the app.

With high-quality art, music and gameplay, GoKids Apps: Save Paris! is a crash course in French culture sandwiched between top-secret missions to defeat green Gloop aliens. What’s more fun than that? Find it in the App Store for $1.99.

(Full disclosure: I received a copy of each of these apps for review purposes.)

Apps I Like: My Underwear by Todd Parr

Sometimes I come across something so delightfully ridiculous, so perfectly preposterous, that I find it irresistible. Such is the case with the My Underwear app by Thumb Arcade, featuring artwork by Todd Parr.

This app is all about having fun with underwear! There are four games within the app: a) a painting activity where you first choose your preferred style of underwear, then color, paint and apply stamps (I find this surprisingly addictive) b) match the underwear to the corresponding animal (sometimes by color, sometimes by pattern)–and you can place the underwear on the animal’s head! c) a game where you feed underwear into the waiting mouth of a hungry monster, and d) a version of the old Concentration card game, where you match pairs.

The first video above is the official app trailer, and the second actually shows someone walking you through all four activities.

Both my girls and I find all four activities fun, and I’ve seen both daughters return to the app on their own over and over. The high-quality music is lively and well-suited to the colorful art. The iPad version is appropriately-priced at $2.99, and (because it uses very intuitive navigation and no reading is needed to play the games) is appropriate for ALL ages. Enjoy some silly fun with your kids today!

Apps I Like: Dragon Checkers by Storyboy

Dragon Checkers for the iPad

I got Dragon Checkers several months before I was able to try it out (because it’s iPad only). It was one of the first apps I installed when the new iPad2 arrived. Turns out it was worth the wait! This fantastic variation on the old favorite checkers game is a real gem. Play against a human opponent or the computer, and choose a dragon champion at the onset who will represent you on the board.

The dragons featured in the game come from the All About Dragons story app (also from Storyboy), so I guess you could call Dragon Checkers an app tie-in. All About Dragons was already one of my family’s favorite story apps, so being able to enjoy some of the same artwork and listen to the same background music and sound effects in Dragon Checkers is a real treat.

The game includes extras like an Undo button, a character highlight (so you know whose turn it is) and my very favorite: ROAR buttons on each side, which can be pressed at any point during the game. My daughter and I use these right after capturing pieces, to communicate supremacy and domination. This makes the staid game of checkers so much more fun to play.

Since this was my first board game app for the iPad2 (well, except for Scrabble which I’d bought within minutes of setting up the iPad) it took a couple of matches before I started realizing some of the huge benefits to board game apps on the iPad: no pieces to lose, no cheating (the game won’t let you make an illegal move) and the ability to stop the game and resume it later, without having to recreate the placement of all the pieces. This is just another reason I love well-made apps on the iPad!

For two bucks you can’t buy a better checkers app. Go get Dragon Checkers, and play with someone you love today! ROAR!

Big Sale on Electronic Arts Game Apps

I don’t have a whole lot of time for games, but I couldn’t resist passing along this news of a fantastic sale on many of the game apps Electronic Arts has available in the Apple App Store–some as cheap as 99 cents. Included in the sale are Boggle, Yahtzee, Tetris, Monopoly, Life, Clue, Tiger Woods PGA Tour, Simpsons Arcade, and at least a half-dozen more.

These guys are the publishers of Scrabble, one of my very favorite apps and one which I use every single day. So now you can go download it for a mere buck, instead of the $2.99 I spent last Thanksgiving (regular price for this app is $4.99). Go!

Here’s a review of the Scrabble app from a few months ago, so you guys can get a peek at how cool it is. And did I mention it’s only 99 cents right now?!