Support Melrose, click to buy via us...
Although portable devices are ideally suited to youngster's desire to grab and interact with the world around them, it's only been recently that we have seen games aimed at real infants. Shape Builder is one such game, an educational puzzle based activity aimed at three to six year olds.
Puzzle games pose the player a problem to solve, and then provided a limited set of tools with which to solve it. This can be as simple as arranging 2D blocks on top of each other, or as complex as balancing objects in a 3D environment. The initial interaction is what usually hooks players in for the first few hours, but it is the game's ability to scale both the size and complexity of each puzzle that distinguishes the truly excellent experiences..
There aren't many games that are specifically aimed at the very young player, and this is a great example. This app will both entertain and educate your infant, and more to the point, they will love playing it! It is a simple concept to snap each piece into place by dragging it into position, and the sound effects when the puzzles are completed are a great reward for finishing each one.
Small children always want to get their hands on your gadgets, and once they've had a go with this game you won't get your iPhone back! Children will pick this game up and understand how it works really quickly, and enjoy the clean simple graphics as well as the completed picture appearing along with the word and related sound bite. Slightly older kids may enjoy guessing what each picture will be before they complete the puzzle.
A toddler will love the game in their first language; the developers are also planning to release other languages and these could be a good little added extra for children learning a foreign language.
Personally I don't have a toddler to test the game for me, but I did take it into the classroom where I work with children who have special needs. These six year olds loved it! They could easily operate the game as the controls are so simple, and they managed to complete the puzzles (in some cases with a bit of help) and very much enjoyed the sounds at the end, repeating the words each time; and they all concentrated on the game for ages. I will be using it again with them!
Each puzzle has between five and ten pieces to place, on average, so doesn't take very long, but in my experience children will want to play a few puzzles at a time. It is an easy game to share because you can take turns doing the puzzles.
This game is obviously intended for young children and those very new to video games. As such it is incredibly easy to play, with no spikes in difficulty - something important in the teaching environment.
Intermediates or experts may soon tire of the novelty, although not of passing their iPhone or iPod Touch to younger siblings or even grandparents who are looking to get started with gaming.
Whatever your usual gaming abilities; if you are ever in the company of a small child, you will have instant entertainment value!
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: