Bottom Line: With bright colors, strong animation, and a good sense of humor it's a great app for working on letters, numbers, matching and fine motor.
With so many apps to choose from, finding a good, solid app is often like trying to find a needle in a haystack (which is why, of course, you're reading smartappsforkids.com). I am often skeptical when someone recommends an app to me, but I wasn’t disappointed when introduced to Alien Buddies by Artgig Apps. I have always appreciated sci-fi, from E.T. to Aliens, and even though my two-year old daughter Madelynn needs a bit of guidance with Alien Buddies, she really enjoys this app.
What we liked:
On the home screen, I immediately noticed a button for parents. The developers include instructions to each game, a reset button, a rationale for why each game was included, and the desired developmental outcome for each activity. As a former teacher, it was great to see the methodology used here.
Priced at $1.99, the app contains three games: match, puzzle, and dot-to-dot, as well as a sticker reward zone.
It's very important to note that the match game in Alien Buddies is not the usual, now overdone app-wise, card-matching game where the child flips over one card in a set and then has to keep flipping cards one at a time until they find a match. In the Alien Buddies match game, the app presents aliens standing on a platform. A UFO flies underneath with a color, shape, letter, number (testing visual skills) or speaker icon (testing auditory comprehension) on it. The child must match what they see on the UFO to one of the aliens nervously standing on the platform. When matched, the UFO flies off the screen and the alien shouts excitedly.
The puzzle section includes eight character puzzles with a setting for four, six or eight pieces. The character is outlined to help place the pieces, which need to be dragged and sometimes rotated into place. The character graphics are really cute, but the puzzle game doesn't stand out like the match game one does.
There are also eight pictures to choose from in the dot-to-dot game, where the child can choose to connect the dots with help or by selecting “I can do it myself.” When help is selected, the next number changes color as a visual cue. Each number is spoken when pressed and the pictures created are cute and fun space images, as with the puzzle game.
Stickers are earned for successful game completion and the child can choose a background to decorate. We enjoyed the ability to manipulate the stickers to become larger or smaller and change the directions they face, as well as being able to preview stickers not yet earned. The child can also save their sticker creations for sharing.
The narration is strong (Madelynn really enjoyed it) and we both appreciated the vibrant colors, cute aliens, and strong animation.
The app's playability would be extended by adding levels of difficulty within each game, either to be selected or earned. For example, in the puzzle game, removing the outline of the pieces would accomplish this, as well as counting backwards, or by twos, in the dot-to-dot game.
Puzzle games are extremely plentiful in the app stores so for one to stand out it really needs to be exceptional. More puzzles (and dot-to-dot) levels would be nice additions.
At just $1.99, however, Alien Buddiers is definitely worth the download cost and just a bit more depth away from being a Top Pick. Recommended!
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This app was reviewed by Jessica Jensen. One day she plans to travel to Roswell, New Mexico. Just in case.