Bottom line: Innovative and challenging visual/memory game for one or two players that completely avoids the "matching pairs" cliche. Definitely worth a look.
iPhone edition, FREE for September 21st only.
Professor Kim: What's missing here? is the second app from German developer, appp media. In this game, the professor (who I believe is the pink individual in the picture above) has taken a submersible and gone deep-sea diving, on the look-out for various ocean creatures. Your child's job is to compare the objects on the screen to the ones floating in the water. There is one more object on the screen than there is in the water and the child has to find the object that's missing from their view of the ocean. If they tap the correct object then they get a golden fish but an incorrect answer gives them only fish bones.
On level one there are three items in the water and four on the screen. Five correct answers unlocks the next level and the number of objects increases with each level until eventually, on level 6, the animals and objects are shown in silhouette, which adds an extra layer of difficulty. The game is organized the same way in two-player mode but in this mode the two players racing each other. The player who finds the missing object first wins the golden fish for that round.
Gameplay is simple and intuitive and I liked that it was straightforward enough to appeal to younger children but sufficiently challenging that older kids would not find it boring. I think this would be a great game for siblings of different ages to play together. The illustrations are warm and colorful but not so cutesy that the game could only appeal to preschoolers. I loved the music - found myself humming and bopping along to it after I had finished playing the game. Both it and the sound effects can be easily turned off on the home screen however, if you are using the game in a therapy or school setting.
There are a few items I would love to see appp media consider for future updates:
- Right at the beginning, it's not obvious what to do. Some kind of visual cue or on-screen instructions just so the child knows what is required of them would be helpful.
- The ability to use the game in landscape mode when one-player is playing on an iPad would be wonderful. I know it's a small thing but my son really hates to use the iPad in portrait mode, it just stresses the heck out of him. I couldn't even get him to try this game.
- There's a little red thermometer on the left hand side of the screen which runs down the time. Running out of time seemed to have no effect however - unless it impacts the number of points awarded? As it's not obvious how points are calculated, I can't be sure.
- I'd like to see something extra added in the way of positive reinforcement. Something like a 'congratulations!' and cheering might be sufficient for successfully completing a game and unlocking the next level but there's lots of opportunities for creativity here - enabling the child to shoot bubbles at the creatures and objects, for example.
- I like that the game is wordless - it makes it accessible to children regardless of age and reading ability. However it would be nice if there were an option for the objects to be named and labelled when tapped - this would add an additional layer of skill development for younger children.
At $1.99 this app is well worth considering for parents who want a game to play with their children or are looking for something that siblings can play together. If you're looking for an app that works on the development of memory and logic skills, this one is a refreshing change from most other matching apps.
This review was written by Deanne Shoyer who wishes that getting older didn't mean asking herself more frequently..."What's missing here?" smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review.