Bottom Line: Brilliantly simple game focusing on matching and early reading skills that could easily be a Top Pick with some modifications. If you've got a toddler or preschooler download it now; it's free and sure to make users laugh out loud!
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I love this app, not only for its inherently good qualities but also because Oliver could not put it down and he was rolling with laughter while playing it. In fact, as soon as he heard me playing the game again to get screenshots for this review he dropped what he was doing and ran over to play with my iPad. Henry, the titular character, is an alien; a very hungry alien who will eat basically anything BUT he only wants to eat what he asks for.
Your child taps Henry's feeding bowl and a balloon pops up showing what Henry wants to eat. Your child is then shown three choices and has to select the correct item to feed Henry. How the object is presented is determined by the parent or teacher in settings. This is also where sounds can be turned off if necessary. Choose for your child to either match:
• a picture to a picture, e.g. a drum with a drum
• a letter to a picture, e.g. the letter 'd' to a picture of a drum labelled with the word 'drum'
• a word to a picture, e.g. 'drum' to a labelled picture of a drum
• a labelled picture to a word, e.g. a labelled picture of a drum with the word 'drum'.
Once your child has made their selection they then drag and drop it into Henry's mouth. If Henry has been fed the correct object he makes happy yum-yum noises. If your child makes the wrong choice - Henry barfs on the screen. This gives me a nice segue into the biggest strength of this app (other than its simplicity). Henry is a very funny character and in many ways just like a young child. Oliver bonded with him immediately. When waiting for your child to play, Henry shows his impatience in the same way a child would - with noises and exaggerated gestures - knocking on the iPad screen to see if you're there, pulling a face and sticking out his tongue, "gently" hinting at what he wants by opening his mouth wide and pointing to it. Once your child has tapped on Henry's feeding bowl, while he waits to be fed the little blue alien sits down and opens his mouth in a way that resembles a baby bird or a yawning chasm. After Henry has eaten, if kids poke his tummy he farts.
In addition to the physical humor, Henry is conceptually funny. He's a picky eater but seemingly also eats anything - not just apples and cake but also household objects like irons and lamps as well as children's clothing. Oliver found it hysterical that Henry wanted to eat clothes. He would feed him items and exclaim: 'he's eating a hat!' 'he's eating gloves!'
In summary, the strengths of this app are:
• It's simple and funny
• Henry doesn't use spoken language so a toddler will be able to play the game on the easiest setting
• It's easy to increase the difficulty level of the app so it can grow with your child
• Free is an awesome price
The reason my star rating isn't higher is due to the following:
• Some items are labelled in a way that will be confusing to some children. The word 'gloves' is paired with a picture of some mittens. The letter 'r' is represented by roses which Oliver couldn't really conceptualize let alone recognize and while British children will know what wellies are, children in North America are likely to find it confusing to match the letter 'w' with a pair of boots. Even in Britain, would children still recognize milk in silver foil-top bottles? I haven't seen those since I was a child. There also appears to be a bug with respect to the word 'glove' in picture and word matching mode.
• There seemed to be some letters missing and I'm not sure if this is intentional or not. Oliver and I played the game together for quite some time and I played it solo as well and I didn't once see the following letters: 'q', 'u', 'v', 'x' or 'z'
• I know this is a free app but I would happily pay for randomized content. The letter 'k' is always matched with a kite, 'p' is always pie,’t’ is always toast and so on. It would be great to see a kettle, pole or towel thrown in there as well. Oliver has an astoundingly good memory so without any randomization it's tough to tell whether he is simply memorizing which objects go together.
• I'm not sure why the background is a baby's room - it seems to be a little young for the age range that the app is aimed at, unless it's Henry's room?
Notwithstanding these points it is definitely worth downloading if you have a child in that age or developmental range. Recommended.
Deanne Shoyer has been a mother too long to find anything funny about barfing, but farting can still be kinda funny. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.