Ansel & Clair's Adventures in Africa Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on June 10th, 2011
iPad App - Designed for iPad

Ansel & Clair's Adventures in Africa is a highly impressive educational interactive with large variety of information about Africa provided.

I feel fortunate to have been given the chance to review many educational apps and after experiencing many interactive games aimed at teaching children, I must say that I am very impressed with the quality, subject matter and overall immersive experience created by Ansel & Clair’s Adventures in Africa.

Meet Ansel, a travel photographer from planet Virtoos, and Clair, the Virtoosian robot who accompanies Ansel on his journey to Africa. Help Ansel take photos of animals, plants, and other important places and objects in three different locales in Africa, specifically the Nile Valley, Sahara Desert and the Serengeti Plains, learning a vast amount of knowledge along
the way. While flying to these areas, their space ship, the Marley Peterson, loses parts needed to fly back to the home planet. Help Ansel and Clair find these parts that have fallen from Marley, looking for them as the player goes about taking photos and learning about Africa. After the photos are taken, be sure to help Ansel match these photos to the correct areas in his travel log. It is especially nice how actual photographs of these objects are incorporated, showing the player real images of what they are photographing, a very nice touch that I greatly enjoy.

I think using intergalactic travelers to teach about Africa is a wonderful choice, as the use of Ansel, a true outsider, allows the players to explore the varied objects found in Africa in very fun and educational ways and creates situations for interesting comparisons to be made involving information young players may already know, such as Ansel thinking that humans keep all cats as pets - even lions or how Ansel is mistaken when he assumes humans eat all plants, not just some. I really appreciate the use of Clair, being a robot with a plethora of information she doles out at each opportunity.

I also like the fact that this app does not shy away from dangers one may find in Africa, such as possibly getting lost in a pyramid or coming across a potentially dangerous or poisonous animal. This info can be cautionary in nature but is never scary or over the top. I appreciate this info as very refreshing as we have many apps that are pure warm and fuzzy when involving animals and it is time my three year old is aware that some animals are not always friendly, especially since we live in an area where there are wild and potentially dangerous animals are rarely found in city limits, as well as the possibility of venomous snakes, spiders, or scorpions we need to be aware of.

The details of all the objects in this app are wonderful, realistic, beautiful and highly detailed. The animals all move slightly as they breathe, the trees sway in the wind and the Nile’s currents move slightly as boats also sway back and forth. Each area of this app has a lot to explore, not only in the animal, plant and other objects to photograph and learn about, but one can also experience the Serengeti in both the dry and wet seasons, learning about migration as well as watching snow fall on Mt. Kilimanjaro. One can explore both day and night time in the Sahara and learning about nocturnal animals, something I especially enjoyed.

Five mini-games are spread throughout this app that involves the pyramids, the lifecycle of frogs, a maze involving the reunification of mom and baby animals, matching the fur or skin to the correct animal and also a clock puzzle. Each of these games has three levels of difficulty, a nice touch. There is also a interactive 3D globe used to help the space ship find Africa in the beginning of this game. Do take the time to explore this globe, tapping the other continents as well to hear their names narrated. Personally, I really enjoyed looking through Ansel's travel lot, arranging them where they need to by matching the photo's taken with simple drawing of these same objects.

The content this app involving geography and life science is certainly impressive. I really like how extensive the info is about Egypt, with an abundance of history information. Some objects included have additional light bulbs one can tap for “Clairvision,” learning more in depth about a certain subject, such as mummies or migration.

It is very worthwhile to check out the info section of this app as it explains in great detail how the interface works. I greatly appreciate the explanation of what each interaction in each section has to offer and how it can be found. This master key is wonderful, very helpful when looking for a specific interaction that one may have missed on his own or when looking for a specific mini-game requested by one’s child. The intro to this app is equally as helpful to a first time player, but it would be nice if one could skip this and continue on with the game if they so choose.

This is an app highly recommended for both grade school classrooms as well as home use, and I suspect older kids and adults will sneak off and to play this game themselves there is so much to offer at any age group.

I hope to see Ansel and Clair visit other continents as well. This app’s approach to learning is fantastic, creative, and very immersive. I am very excited to see such apps be developed, I wish learning tools such as this were available when I was a child.

iPad Screenshots

(click to enlarge)

Ansel & Clair's Adventures in Africa screenshot 1 Ansel & Clair's Adventures in Africa screenshot 2 Ansel & Clair's Adventures in Africa screenshot 3 Ansel & Clair's Adventures in Africa screenshot 4 Ansel & Clair's Adventures in Africa screenshot 5
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