Bottom line: A creative role-playing game full of cute critters and fun interactivity. Make them nap, eat, swim and play music at the whim of your preschooler's fingertip. If only real children were so compliant.
If you want to make your youngster happy, download Dr. Panda's Daycare using Smart Apps for Kids' handy link:
$1.99, iPad/iPhone Free lite version
My daughter has played this game ad nauseum since I loaded it onto the iPad, so I've got to say that this in itself proves that Dr. Panda's Daycare is a winner. The newest in app in the Dr. Panda series by developer TribePlay, is an open ended role-playing game in the same genre as the immensely popular virtual dollhouse, My Playhome from Shimon Young. Dr. Panda's Daycare has a similar interface and well-produced interactivity set in a fun environment for kids to explore.
Five little furry children get dropped off at the door of an upscale daycare center by their respective parents and are left for the day in the virtual care of the player, your child. Concerned? There's no need, as there is much to keep these little critters entertained. Start with the 5 areas/rooms in which your tot can care for and play with the characters - a playroom, backyard, nap room, kitchen and a music room. Each room has its own theme and function and an endless array of items to interact and role play with.
In the kitchen, your small charges can sit politely around the table and eat lunch, have a tea party, or celebrate a birthday, complete with hats and cake. In the playroom, they can play trains, blow bubbles, hula hoop and dress up. The backyard features a pool, a jumping castle and a slippery slide. In the music room, the player can choose an individual instrument or have an all-in jam session. There is an endless array of interactions in each room and lots of little surprises (try shaking the branch in the backyard for a particularly cute one).
My daughter found every room entertaining, but was particularly enamored with putting the animals down for a nap in the bedroom. Customise the bed; set it a-rocking and put nightcaps on the little creatures before they catch some zzzs. Oh, and don't forget to pull the curtains and the gentle nightlights will glow. There's a scooter in this room that seems gratuitously out of place at naptime, but this strangely placed item creates a story opportunity itself - maybe one of the characters couldn't bear to be parted with it while he napped. There's endless creative play available here which is only limited by your child's imagination.
This masterful setting for pretend play is cute and fun and the graphics and concept alone will attract toddlers like flies to honey. What really sets it apart for me, however, is the attention shown to detail. I'm going to focus on the music here because that's where my obsession lies. But in this you can see how much thought and care has been put into the development of the game. The cd player in the playroom can change the background music - the yellow cd is the theme music, the blue cd has classical music and the red cd has variations of 'Happy Birthday' on it (so kids can play it while their furry friends celebrate a birthday party in the kitchen). And in the nap room, the background music turns off when the lullaby music box is played. Details details details. I just love it. There's also detail in the characters' expressions. Every action taken gets a facial reaction - when a child feeds the little monkey a glass of milk it makes an open-mouthed toothy grin, the little elephant cub shuts her eyes in sheer joy as she slides down the slippery slide.
The controls are simple, intuitive and responsive and there are lots of variations that can be discovered the more the child plays. My daughter had so much fun when she discovered you could stack the characters on top of each other and they could reach the cuckoo clock! A good 10 minutes of storytellling came out of that little discovery and the characters got into all sorts of mischief, let me tell you! Something else that is a really enjoyable facet is the ability to open and close the curtains and change the weather outside. Dr. Panda even makes an appearance from time to time outside the window (perhaps he's checking in to make sure that all is going well).
There's a little For Parents tab at the top of the homepage which has the music and sound on/off options, and the usual external links. There's also a big colourful prominent icon which leads to other TribePlay apps on the homepage. I'd really like to see a 'hold down' lock or something similar so that they aren't easily accessed by the toddlers that this game is aimed at.
This is definitely a well-produced app which is going to be used for hours and hours of creative play by your young ones. As little girls, especially, like to mother their baby dolls, so too will they enjoy mothering these cute furry critters and taking care of their needs with the vast range of interactions on offer here.
Eleanor Holland has two real children to mother, thank you very much, and if she is asked to pour a glass of milk for another virtual creature on the iPad, she just very well might scream. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.