The best thing about Puzzingo is its atmosphere. When the app opens, it plays circus music, has a clown holding a large "Play" sign and shows a cannon shooting balloons that when touched, pop into the air. Throughout the app, the graphics are engaging and colorful and the music and sound effects are outstanding.
Each level in Puzzingo proceeds the same way. A map, with open spots like those old wooden puzzles with a cut-out piece and a place exactly for that piece to fit, is presented with a wrapped gift box. The child moves a finger back and forth over the present to open and out pops several puzzle pieces to be placed into the open spots on the map. The name of each piece is spoken, with excited narration and great sound effects, when placed.
The map puzzle pieces open more puzzles. For example, in Let's Play, the game starts with a map with open spots for "jungle animals" and "farm animals." When each of those is placed they break down into further puzzles with more screens and more pieces to place. Good stuff.
Each time a present is opened, it reveals only one or two pieces at a time, which is a nice, simple way to go about it for toddlers. When each section is completed, the child is congratulated and gets to play a mini game. Some are unique to that level, such as throwing food into a clown's mouth on the picnic level and, after the farm animals puzzle, swatting flies. Several are balloon popping, as on the title screen, which is a tad disappointing.
Then it's back to the main screen for the next group of items to place.
Each item is displayed with its word and the word is read and a sound effect played when touched. I appreciate the inclusion of the written words, even in toddler apps.
The app offers four level options. Let's Play was part of the original Puzzingo app that cost $1.99. The two other options, Core Concepts (which was also available in the original version) and Space, are available as in-app purchases for an additional $1.99 each. The free Let's Play provides three levels of freeness: jungle animals, farm animals, and picnic. The in-apps are protected from most kids making errant purchases by the user having to use a math problem, although the problem is always the same, which defeats the point a bit.
There is also a free Daily Preview, of other Puzzingo puzzles, including some from the paid sections and some that are in development for future levels, meaning a new puzzle can be downloaded every day. The day that this review was published, one of the Space section levels was free. Once you click out, however, it disappears. It would be nice if it stayed for an entire day, but it's still a really nice function.
If you purchase both in-apps, Core Concepts includes puzzles that include letters, numbers, shapes and colors, which means it covers A LOT of preschool ground.
I'm not a big fan on in-app purchases displayed as prominently as they are in Puzzingo, but much of that concern is mitigated by the free level being exceptionally deep and good and the daily download download providing fresh material every day for free.
Puzzingo provides a lot for free, has terrific energy and is a well-done app for toddlers. It's a must-download for the freebies and I strongly recommend the Core Concepts level ($1.99), because of all the preschool basics covered in it. It's rare that I strongly recommend an in-app purchase, but here we are.
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