The physical characteristics of Mayer's guinea pig–like Little Critter characters may not be evolving much, but the apps based on their books are. This 20-year-old take on the Grimm fairy tale is translated into a much richer experience than such previous iPad adaptations of his amusing storybooks as Just Grandma and Me, developed by Oceanhouse Media (2010).
While past Critter apps have been static experiences with extensive sound effects and a few passive games (trying to find hidden spiders in the illustrations, for instance), this one features more animation, smarter games (including word and picture matching) and some hilarious diversions in the story itself that aren't part of the original text. The artwork is typical—busy but filled with small jokes and witty touches—but enlivened here by sharp, expressive movement and some well-executed voice work. The Wolf, in particular, is a hiliariously hammy villain: "I believe my ears are in perfect proportion to my nose, don't you think?" he asks when questioned about his looks. "Yes, they are humongous!" Little Red Riding Hood chirps. A sidekick mouse who frequently warns about what's coming next isn't so entertaining, and page transitions are rough and erratic for such an otherwise polished production. Curiously, there's an ongoing coin-collecting game that rewards points for tapping on all items shown on the screen. It doesn't add much to the story and makes the app seem as if it's trying to be more game than story. It's not needed; the story would work fine without it, and the point tallying is distracting.
Overall, this Little Critter app benefits from deeper interactive features as well as improved character and voice work over earlier iterations. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)