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PETE'S ROBOT by Heartdrive Media Kirkus Star


developed by Heartdrive Media

Pub Date: March 23rd, 2012
Publisher: Heartdrive

An impressively scruffy app with scribbly artwork and nary a straight line to speak of, this mix of low-fi presentation and top-shelf interactivity is a unique pleasure.

Hyperactive, blue-haired Pete and his dog Spot send away for all the parts necessary to build a custom robot. But when the gleaming, red, string-limbed ’bot arrives, the thing goes crazy in an amusing series of adventures. (The robot delivers mail to the wrong addresses, spills the goods in a candy store, and serves stinky mud pies at a diner, among other things.) It turns out the robot is missing a "Heartdrive," which happens to be the name of the app developer, Heartdrive Media. Once the addition is installed, the robot becomes "Hero" after rescuing a cat in a tree. Then Pete, Spot, Hero and some of their friends start a band. The busy stream-of-consciousness plotting at work in the app perfectly fits the intentionally rough artwork. The characters often look like they've been chewed up in a paper shredder, but they're set against sometimes-gorgeous spinning backgrounds. Every page has at least one or two touch-screen toys to play with, like telescoping arms on Pete or a full set of instruments to play and mix up when the musical group is formed. There's also optional narration from three different voice actors and a cast of characters like a monkey mailman and a dinosaur chef, who'll likely reappear in future adventures. If there's one strike against the app, it's the exhausting overuse of exclamation marks in the text, which makes every! Line! Appear! To! Scream!

There's a sunny, boisterous sense of fun about the whole thing that's positively endearing; both robot and app have got a lot of heart.

(iPad storybook app. 4-10)