My son’s first movie was “Wreck-It Ralph,” so when I was given the opportunity to review this app I jumped at the chance. I was curious to see what would be included from the film and, more importantly, what would be excluded.
The story is known to fans of the movie: Donkey Kong-esque character hits his 30s, realizes he wants more out of life than his job, goes on an adventure and finds satisfaction in adopting a child. The plot of Monsters, Inc., basically. All the characters are voiced by the actors from the film. WRECK-IT SPOILER: If you haven’t seen the movie yet, why are you reading this review?
As a storybook, this app allows children to flip forward and backward through an interactive tale, following along with the movie. The artwork is up to Disney’s usual quality. A narrator reads the tale, but kids can record themselves reading it too — although you have to lower the music to hear them. My son, who can read, enjoyed this function but didn’t have the patience to try it out more than once or twice.
Although there is catchy music throughout, none of it is from the original film. This is probably a good thing — the “Sugar Rush” song is burned into my frontal lobe. There are however full video clips lifted from the film.
More interesting is that in at least two points the app uses the iPad’s camera to put the viewer into the story (whenever the game characters look out at the real world, basically). This endlessly entertained my five-year-old boy and my two-year-old girl.
The storybook has limited interactivity. Clicking a character prompts him to speak a line or two, but there’s not much logic between the characters on screen — tapping two different characters having a conversation makes for some muddled dialogue. Readers can also create the illusion of action by clicking on certain parts of the storybook, but the scene always returns to its original state after a few seconds. My kids were generally confused as what they could and couldn’t click — there’s lots of eye-candy in Wreck-it Ralph, but not all of it does something when you poke at it in the storybook. The redeeming feature is Vanellope, who “glitches” onto the screen repeatedly, creating a hide-and-seek game with the reader to dare you to click her. The reward is minimal — she says a line from the movie — but it breaks up the story, which can be long for younger kids.
It’s telling that the villain from the movie, who can be quite frightening in his final “boss form,” is curiously absent. That’s Disney’s tacit admission that maybe a clown-faced bug monster might be too scary for tots, although it didn’t bother my son (and he didn’t notice he was missing either).
By far the more entertaining piece of this app is the Sugar Rush kart racing game. You get to build a cart with a dizzying variety of sweet confections and then race them. The racing game features a variety of race tracks and opponents. Between the different tracks and the huge variety of vehicles you can build, the game provides more entertainment than the storybook.
Overall, this is an app for younger children — perhaps siblings who were too young to see the movie but heard about it — accompanied by an adult. The storybook does the work of introducing the film, but most kids will probably get bored and skip to the kart racing like mine did.
You can download this app for the iPhone and iPad from iTunes.
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