Bottom Line: I have to be honest, sometimes I have to hem and haw over the pros and cons of an app before writing the bottom line for a review, but this might be the best Dr. Panda app published. The interface is simple and easy to navigate while figuring out what combinations of buildings make larger buildings is like a giant Easter egg hunt. They have thought of everything from ease of play, to turning off the promotions screen, to opening the buildings to interior play and even a night mode. I had a blast tinkering with this app and I'm betting that you and your children will too.
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Our beautiful and much-loved, Ellie gives us a look at how the app works below. Take a look and don't forget to subscribe!
As is typical for Dr. Panda apps, this app opens to a home screen preview of the fun to come as well as parental features. The parent area is locked for adults and in that section adults can turn off or on the promotion screen, music, sound effects, subscribe to the Dr. Panda newsletter or "like" the Dr. Panda Facebook page. Once all of the basics are in order, kiddos (and parents) can get right to city building. City building begins on a gridded green landscape and the app prompts users how to proceed with creating buildings. There are menu strips on the bottom of the screen as well as a drop-down menu in the upper left, while there is a day or night mode located in the upper right corner.
Users can manipulate their 3D views with the left or right arrows on the screen as well as by pinching in out out for zoom. The bottom menu holds the good stuff. This is where users find buildings, roads, landscape, water feature, electricity, the undo shovel, as well as items for upgrading buildings and adding buildings for learning, food, shopping and entertainment. They have managed to fit all of those options into just nine buttons and achieve 60 building types by just combing these items during play. For instance, putting four typical buildings together creates an apartment complex, or by upgrading four food carts, a mall is created. If a user makes a food cart and adds a fun factor, a coffee shop is created. Children can choose any of the adorable Dr. Panda animal friends wandering around the town to venture into any of the buildings to eat, drink, change clothes and even have a bath or go to bed. The options are almost endless.
While tinkering, I didn't run into a single item that didn't have some sort of effect when touched. The drop-down menu at the top of the screen shows a help button, an idea button that shows what has been unlocked and the home button to return to the home screen. When users are finished playing, they can return to the world again, or it will be saved while a new world is created. Over 20 cities can be saved.
The app is illustrated with the beloved colors and characters of Dr. Panda including the panda, elephant, raccoon, cat and hippo. While tinkering with this app I found no bugs or inconsistencies and I can say that it was absolutely fun for me to tinker with. In fact, dare I say it? I think this app stretches the mold from pure toddler fun to an even wider age-range since there is so much to discover and unlock. With that said, our youngest users will still be able to have a fun time building houses and laying roads and digging lakes even if they may not be quite ready for some of the intricacies of the app. The beauty of the design however, is that they will at least stumble upon them while tinkering and that is why this is a fabulous app.