A fanciful take on the invention of the alphabet, more a video than a full-featured app but through the roof for production values.
The setting seems right out of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and is depicted with the accomplished 3-D modeling and monochrome gray tones of Chris Van Allsburg’s pencil work. Goose-stepping hordes of small, peglike Numberlys stamp out lines of digits in a gargantuan factory amid huge shadows and gear wheels. One night, five vaguely dissatisfied workers stay behind and with mighty efforts hammer out an alphabet letter by letter that, when released the next morning, flies out into the world to introduce both words and color to the stunned masses. Readers can help them through a limited variety of touch-controlled trampoline, pinball and dexterity games. Aside from the games, there are no interactive elements in the visuals, but smoothly animated movements and scene changes aplenty keep the characters and plot tumbling along. Read, optionally, by a narrator with an exaggerated German accent, the sparse text appears on separate screens and runs to witty lines like “Now, what could the next letter…be?” Directional arrows at the bottom of each screen, plus a rotating main-menu index, allow rapid back-and-forth–ing. The art’s sophistication isn’t quite matched by the attention to technical detail, as toggling the melodramatic background music off also cuts out all of the nongame sound effects.
Still—a marvelous visual, if not tactile, experience.(iPad storybook app. 5-8)