Find out the secret origins of the alphabet with this gorgeous story book for iOS
Numberly For iPhone : is the second app from Moonbot Studios, creators of the brilliant The Fantastic Flying Book of Mr Morris Lessmore (which we reviewed previously http://www.tapmag.co. uk/review/438052647/fantastic-flying-books-mr-morris-lessmore). In a similar standard to Morris Lessmore, Numberlys looks superb, using the same high quality mix of computer animation and motion graphics that the team developed while working on films for Disney and Pixar. It’s easy to spot the Pixar-esque design and it’s all the better for it. However, this time the look and feel is based on 1930s dystopian sci-fi classic, Metropolis. For those not familiar with early German cinema, it also bears a strong resemblance to the brilliant World of Goo or Contre Jour HD. With a monochrome colour scheme and stylized graphics, it looks more like a Soviet propaganda movie than a kids app. Although this may be great for adult eyes, it may be lost on the younger audience it’s aimed at. Colour is surely a big draw for most young people looking for a fun interactive experience.
Numberlys follows the story of five ‘numbers’ who live in a world without letters, and so decide to invent new characters to liven up their day. The protagonists in Numberlys lead you through a series of interactive games to help you create the letters of the alphabet one by one, with nearly all the letters having their own game. Although the story is much simpler than the sophisiticated Morris Lessmore, the interactivity in Numberlys is a much more involved experience, and therefore the amount of time it takes to work through the app is much greater. For the older children there are phonetic rhymes before each letter, helping to teach them new words and letters both visually and phonetically.
Unfortunately, because of the rigid nature of using the alphabet and its entire letters as your story structure, there is not a lot of explorability for the app. The tasks are often simple and noticeably repetitive, some appearing several times for different letters. For example, there is one game where a character bounces up and down to break a letter into its new form – this appears at least three times, as does a game where you use a cannon to break up letters. Although this repetition and structure may help reinforce the letters for older children, there is not enough to keep younger kids entertained for long. It also lacks much of the charm and re-readability of its predecessor once you’ve reached the end, the games are identical the second time around.