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The Stay At Home GeekMom Weekend Edition 3/19-3/20

Pump’s Points: Top 10 Games for iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad: Grade School Ages 5-12 – Part Two

To recap yesterday’s part one, I have something a little  different for you this weekend. If you’ve read my About Me page, you have met Pump, my 7 1/2 year-old co-reviewer.

I had planned to bring you MY top-10 list of games for kids his age, but when I asked him to name his favourites, none of mine even made the top-20! I brought  you the first five yesterday (click here to read) .

Now here is the second five, a list of the ones he almost picked, and some observations I made about kids and games along the way.

They Games are not in any order.

All mentioned games are universal apps, or have a version for both iPhone/iPod’ touch and an HD one for iPad.

If you see only one icon, the app works on all, otherwise icons on the LEFT are iPhone iPod touch, on the right will be the iPad HD version. Clicking on them will take you right to iTunes.

What a KID thinks KIDS should play. the second five:

Pump’s first pick today is an Edu-App No-Brainer and a wonderful board game too.

It’s called Zoologic, by Foxmind who also make the apps and we have been playing since Pump was about age 4 (for real this time) and he has never tired of it. This game has replay value to spare, it’s perfect for preschoolers right through at least grade 2 or 3.

It’s a wonderful logic puzzle whether on iPhone, iPod touch, iPad or out of the box and the game play is virtually identical. The iOS version has saved me a lot of money though.

Aside from the lower cost than the board game (game is free to try, you must make in-app purchases from .99-5.99 to unlock more levels, the HD version costs more) but since Pump loves the cartoon animals so much, he has used them for many other things besides Zoologic, so we are on our 4th box!

This game is free of the bells and whistles that adorn most of his other choices, and I had no idea but was thrilled to learn he still played it regularly enough to be in this list.

Pump’s Point:  This is easy to learn, dogs don’t like cats, mice eat cheese so you can’t put stuff like that near each other. But it gets hard. This games makes me smart and I have fun.

The next game Pump wanted kids to know about is another classic, Uno, from huge game publisher Gameloft.

The reviews are mixed in the app store, but I have played it with Pump and it’s true to the original game, is easy for a pre-reader to grasp and play solo, and the multiplayer option really allows us to interact. You can also play on multiple devices .

There is of course an iPhone version which is a steal at .99 and HD is 4.99, but if you love this perennial favorite, it’s worth it since the iPad version is where the multiplayer option feels authentic. You really play together, up to four players, sharing the device.

Pump’s Point: This is fun because you can play it with your friends and your parents. And you can’t cheat.

Here is a video review:

To find that Spirit HD by Marco Mazzoli (a name, how refreshing!) an award winning arcade game, and I had no clue he even knew it existed, was a real surprise.

But he has great taste because I don’t think any year-end app round-up in 2010 did NOT have Spirit for iPhone (.99) or HD for iPad (1.99) on their best games of the year.

I do understand why Pump likes it though. It’s got arcade quality graphics, it’s completely touch controlloed and it’s simple. There is nothing to kill, to win you draw circles with you finger around invading ships and create a vortex.

I wish I had a proper trailer, but this video is certainly going to give you a better understanding than I will especially in so short a space.

Pump’s Point: It’s very cool to use the lasers. It’s a bit hard but so much fun. Your kids will like it. I do.

Ok brace yourselves, I’m going wordy on you with this next one!

Pump, had be be listing these in any order other than which folder we looked in, would like have put Chillingo’s terrific physics/puzzle game Cut The Rope at the top with Angry Birds. It’s only .99 for iPod touch and iPhone and 1.99 for the HD version.

It was actualy made by Zepeto labs, Chillingo, is just a distributor, but a formidable one. But they don’t always brand things as theirs and when they do, there are still varying degrees of hype. and branding Cut the Rope gets about as much as Angry Birds which apparently passed the unfathomable 100 MILLION paid download mark just 6 days ago!

So the fact the publicly traded company scooped up Chillingo means that a) Chillingo is going to continue to have the budget to create movie tie-ins deals and dominate the casual game sector of iOS (and other mobile platforms. like Android.)

It also means that indie devs like Zepto Labs, Rovio (yes they were small once, but not since 2003,) KYY Games and many others whose apps are purchased attain the Buzz in the App Store and the insider information to keep the games firmly on the top of all the charts.

I know, I know, “who cares, I thought you were talking about kid’s games.” Well please bear with me I am leading up to what I discovered about how the kids I know and at least this one parent perceive good kids choices differently.

I’ll get back to that in a second, tho, for now I have to say this is one big-name game with Buzz I am thrilled to see Pump play.

It’s not flashy; like most characters in Chillingo titles, Om Nom, the monster is obscenely cute, and to top it off he’s on the hunt for candy! But don’t panic. That’s where cute ends and serious challenges start.

This is game that fosters patience, logical and critical thinking and frankly stumps me far sooner than Pump. But this is not a kid’s game, it has a devoted following that crosses age, gender and national divides. It’s just that good.

But what is it? Well it’s about cutting the ropes that are keeping the candy away from Om Nom so that it drops to his greedy little greedy mouth, and collect stars along the way. Look to the left. Easy right? Well not so fast! As you move from box to box the challenges increase.

Also they put in holiday themes at no extra charge.

Pump’s Points: It’s very simple. You just need a good brain and you’ll like it. It makes you smart. And I can beat my mo at this game so you can bet your mom for once too. [HA!]

Here is the official trailer:

So you know all that preamble about who Chillingo and Rovio and EA are? Well we’re coming to my point.

Pump’s first choice, my least favorite (I know, I know don’t kill me, it’s just an opinion, not a review!) was a toss-up between Angry Birds and his ultimate choice Angry Birds Seasons.

It’s an amusing game, but I don’t think this is exactly a physics brain bender. If you toss enough birds in enough ways, you will eventually knock down the structures supporting the evil pigs. I’m glad he Seasons over regular angry birds, as there is a new purchasable feature which launches a Mighty Eagle that just wipes a troublesome level out. I call shenanigans!

It’s .99 cents and 1.99 for HD, and unless you have been hiding under a rock, you have at least heard of this most successful iOS franchisee that had crossed over not only Android, but is coming soon to consoles and has a huge movie tie-in Angry Birds Rio, coming up.

Here’s the Cinematic trailer, it will tell you the backstory to this admittedly very cute and clever but also somewhat disturbing premise:

Seriously, is that a feel-good tale? lol!

Obviously this game is appealing to all ages and all types of gamers but it’s a physics puzzler. And it’s fun. I think it’s a tad obnoxious not to include the holiday issues in the main app, like Lima Sky’s DoodleJump, who has a similar movie tie-in and hype, although not the multi-national-corporate-behemoth backing or their own Cut the Rope.

But for the small investment they have released a Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s and now a St. Patrick’s day game all of which stay playable. And don’t get used to the icons, dollars to donuts an Easter Buny-bird is flying into the App Store soon. They even have plush toys that do crack me up!

And while the Angry Birds Rio Game is set to launch, the 20th Century Fox movie, is simply called Rio, no mention of angry birds and now watch this trailer and explain, someone please, how these sacchraine-sweet characters in this children’s feel good 3-d Easter movie relate please?

I’m not against Angry Birds and yes, I’m no fan of corporate culture, but some of my personal favorite games come from powerhouses too. I just think Angry Birds has gone off the deep end in terms of marketing, they are now actively targeting kids over their bigger market, regular gamers, and I frankly doesn’t think it lives up to the hype.

Pump’s Point: Kids love holidays so get this one instead of regular angry birds. It’s fun and hard but your kids will learn to knock down castles.
 I think Pump’s point kinda makes mine 😉

Here are the other 10 games Pump wanted on the list:
  • Angry Birds HD, Chillingo
  • Battleship by EA
  • Cooties! Chillingo (review here, the real dev added a kid’ss mode just for Pump, well not really, but you’ll see what I mean if you follow the links
  • Shrek Carting HD, Gameloft
  • Food Processing, Chillingo (Read My Review Here, it’s awesome)
  • Planst Vs Zombies by Popcap
  • Peggle, Popcap
  • The Game of Life HD, EA
  • Doodle Jum
  •  Spongebob Marble and Sliders by Nickelodeon.

He has great taste, I can recommend them all to varying degrees, certainly no duds from my dude!
Tangent Alert: The rest of this post contains my observation, so please, if you just wanted a list, don’t feel like you need to read this to find more games, you have them all. But I hope you’ll read on as I found out some interesting sstuff.

Do you see the trend? I picked the top 10 from his 20, or more aptly pushed him pick between games that were too similar like regular Angry Birds and the holiday edition, and in total we have only 2 games by indie devs, and ZooLogic, because while perhaps not indie, Foxmind is hardly a household name.

No matter how many organic, toy-like, stellar apps and games I buy for him, and as much as he does love them, when left to play on his own or when asked to list his preferences he pretty much goes staright for the flash. He has, for example, many Battleship clones but he always goes back to EA’s because of the high production value, despite it being the lesser of several gaming options in his mom’s opinion.

What that means to me is that while I will always bring him the best creative wonderful educational fare, I will have to pay very close attention to what hits I put on any device he uses.

To me it’s like reading vs TV. If you ban the latter altogether you do miss some good stuff, and the former becomes unpleasant, so a balance is needed, but when my iPad2 arrives and I turn over this old girl to him, I will have to seriously rethink which games to leave installed.

And I will also have to keep an eye out for apps that become exploitative over time. Angry Birds is all about marketing now for example. You saw the toys, they have put movie trailers right in their apps, and they are releasing yet a third game based on the upcoming movie Rio. I am not shelling out another 2-3$ for the same game redressed, at least not until Pump has mastered every level on the others and that’s not happening soon.

I also learned that when it comes to importuning board games, especially if I am actually buying the app for us, not getting a code for a review or appadvice and now even here, I will stick to the sometimes mediocre, sometimes incredible (Check out Risk!) big brand companies’ version, since it is far more likely to be played than a better version with less slick. I will still always support indie devs, but if he not going to play something, I’m not going to buy it.

Kids are just too used to being fed eye-popping eye-candy everywhere they go. 3-D movies and Disneyesque theme parks saturate their senses with CUTE. And like it or not, it effects how kid’s respond to othermedia. When I was Pump’s age I “knew” as a child that Canadian TV was “inferior:” to American, read had lower budgets. So I dismissed entire networks missing many wonderful programs for kids in particular but across the board, until my late 20’s.
And that was long before Saturday morning cartoons migrated to 28 dedicated cable channels!

On a lighter note, you must see this parody of Angry Birds from what seems to be an Israeli show. It’s also a parody of the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. It’s hilarious but be advised, in the mostly gibberish, I am pretty sure I caught some profanity, so make sure you room is at least PG 13 before playing the one 😉

Ok that’s it for this Stay at Home GeekMom Weekend Edition. If you have an ideo for a top ten list you would like me to put togother for you, please leave a comment!  I will bring you as much as I can this week and don’t forget to look for my daily reviews on appadvice.com. in the mean time here are some recent posts you might enjoy:
Happy App HuntingThe 


Comments on: "Top 10 Games for iPhone iPod touch and iPad: Grade School Ages 5-12 Part Two" (3)

  1. i want to win an iphone

  2. I love your blog and added it to my favorites!

  3. Lots of my kids favorites on here too, great job, Pump!

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