Bottom Line: A creative role playing game for ages 4-10 that lets kids produce and direct puppet shows featuring scenes and characters from around the world. Absolutely gorgeous graphics and animation but it's really in need of an introductory tutorial and more user-friendly navigation.
Magikid Circus from Angell Echo is a creative play space similar to apps like Playschool Art Maker and Toontastic in which kids create a scene and then animate, narrate and record it. It is visually beautiful and luscious in its graphics and content which is lucky otherwise, I would have turned it off quite quickly. I found it really difficult to navigate, and it took about a half an hour of exploring to get a handle on it. My almost-four year old daughter tried for a short time and then wandered off; even the gorgeous graphics weren't enough to keep her attention when she couldn't figure out the objective.
The target audience is 4-10 year olds, but I'd recommend it for children in upper ages of that estimate if playing independently. I'm not sure that older children will have an interest in this sort of role playing app though as the content is aimed at younger ages. Once I had a handle on the navigation and concept, I was impressed with the range of variety and content provided. What this app really needs though is some form of user guide or introductory tutorial as it is absolutely baffling at first (and second) glance.
Magikid Circus is unique in its interface - the characters are suspended at the end of a bouncy string. In fact, everything is suspended at the end of a bouncy string, from the navigational icons to the email link. It's a totally new concept (for me, anyway). The player pulls down on the object to activate it. Picture a puppet theater with the puppet hanging from a bungee cord rather than fixed strings, and then you might get an inkling of what's to come. Once I puzzled my way through the icons, I was ready to play.
The circle icon is like the pull cord on a blind or curtain - pull it and it closes and opens sets. It's also the equivalent of a back button at times which I discovered after some aimless yanking of cords. Pulling down the puppet theatre icon opens the set and the player chooses from several pictured venues - a circus, a glacier in Greenland, the United States, Canada, and Italy. This travelling circus hits some pretty far-flung places. Each set has a couple of scenery choices and four characters to bounce around in them. Italy, for example, has an outdoor scene featuring the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Colosseum and a gondola on a Venetian waterway. The second scene is a cafe/table setting with lots of delicious foods. There are four characters to role-play with in each set - Italy has a girl in traditional Italian dress, a soccer player, a dapper gentleman with a bowler hat and monocle, and a girl in Venetian masquerade costume.
There is a music icon to play music during your 'show,' and each set has 3 sound/visual special effects to include and interactive 'props' involved in the background scenery. It rains maple leafs in Canada and when kids press the sun icon in Greenland, it darkens and the Northern Lights are visible. If children want a little break from roleplaying, there's a round icon which gives some quick facts about the chosen scene and a world icon which shows where it's located on a map and gives facts about important locations/features. It's a fun way to learn a little bit about another culture. The fun facts are narrated so younger kids can benefit even if unable able to read yet.
Once your kids have had a little playtime, there's an option to record their gameplay with movement and narration and save it to view at leisure, or upload it and share it with other Magikid users. Before doing so, there is an opportunity to set up your stage the way you like it. Using the DIY icon gives the player the opportunity to interchange characters and music from other worlds so that he or she can customise the play space to a certain extent.
The production values in this app are impressive - the graphics are richly coloured and the animations are sophisticated and smooth. Many of the objects in the scenes beyond those on strings are interactive. The music has been specially composed for each stage set and the sound effects are vibrant and well-rendered. Every click, swipe and tap responds readily and there were no irritating glitches. It's simply a crying shame that the navigation and objective is so confusing as everything else is top-notch and potentially highly enjoyable for the average child.
Before the recent update which made all the worlds available for one price, rather than as in app purchases, only the circus scene was available for the download cost. The name 'Magikid Circus' now seems a bit too confining for the app as many different settings are included, and more destinations are forecast for future updates. This app is much more than just a circus, but it really needs a ringmaster to guide the audience through the entertainment experience.
Eleanor Holland had no bad childhood experience with clowns, and therefore does not find them creepy. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.