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TOBY AND HIS DEAR FRIEND by Mariecat Graphics


illustrated by Mariecat Graphics & developed by Centum Interactive

Age Range: 3 - 7

Pub Date: Nov. 4th, 2011
Publisher: Centum Interactive

A kitten observes his caterpillar pal’s transformation into a butterfly.

Toby the kitten notices a caterpillar caught in a spider web. He rescues the green, wormlike creature and names him Plumpy, and they become best friends. Eventually Plumpy spins a cocoon and Toby thinks he’s dead, so he buries him. Later a swallowtail butterfly appears and—of course—is the new and improved Plumpy. The only solid appeal in this app lies in the artistic bonus features. It employs the requisite generic painting tools but also offers “Decalcomanie” (a deficient term to describe the function), which transfers mirror images from one side of the page to another. Creations can be saved and/or emailed. Colorful and sharp retro illustrations are initially visually appealing yet tiringly repetitive, and the lackluster story contains several clues (syntax, spelling) that English is a foreign language, at least to the South Korean development team. Interaction consists of prompting animal sounds, colorizing grayscale images, shuffling cats across the screen (“movement” that’s often reminiscent of a lenticular image) and a few subpar tap/tilt features. The background music, which might be equally effective at a silent movie, can be switched on or off, as can narration and sound effects. Language selections include English, Korean, Chinese and Japanese.

Far from purr-fect, this app still offers a few redeeming qualities. Are they worth the price of admission? Probably not. (iPad storybook app. 3-7)