Developer: Busythings
Price: Free, with $1.99 In-App Purchase
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 3

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★★
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Intuitiveness Rating: ★★★★½
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Busy bundle 1 is a cute and educational collection of apps from one of my favorite developers, Busythings, as my son and I really enjoy their whimsical logic and spatial reasoning games a great deal. Please note that Busy bundle 1 is a free app that includes a single quirky game at no price but includes an option to unlock the other five sections for an additional $1.99. The review of the locked section of this app is a noted exception as I typically do not review the in-app purchases of free apps. I did so here as I really do want to bring this Busythings app to the attention of readers, believing that these additional five activities are worth the price of admission.

To start, players will have access to the first free section of this app where one navigates a helicopter with arrow buttons that will save a cow stuck in a tree, dropping it into a waiting bathtub below. More difficult levels include the caging of a monster before saving the cow, as well as later including two cows to rescue in color-coded bathtubs. I have also enjoyed testing this app as I try to work out these problems incorrectly, attempting to toss the cows in the cage or to drop them onto the monster – much to the dismay of this creature who has amusing ways of avoiding these fates. I also admire the ability to play through these levels of difficulty or to choose the easy, medium, or most difficult area to start with.

cowsThe character of Brown Monkey is introduced as a paid section of this app. This is an early math game as is their other related app, Feed the Monkey. Here, this creature is in need of help in reaching a mango as he is trapped in a box and needs blocks to be added to raise him to the opening to grab his fruit. A number is introduced that one must add blocks to in order to total this number. I adore how an odd pink man – a common character in these apps – is available to give assistance, here as a bungee jumper who will swing down from a tree limb and jump onto the number tapped. His jumping will add the same number of blocks to the box, raising Brown Monkey up to reach his snack.

I admire how one can count the number of blocks needed to fill up this box as the side of the clear container is scored, as well as the equation delivered at the top of the screen. Be aware that if one overfills the box, Brown Monkey is too high to reach his fruit and will have to start over from the beginning. I have seen many math apps that may teach this same basic addition, but the unique way of delivering these counting exercises is truly charming. Children and their adults will be smitten by the quick dance the monkey and bungee jumper perform with a correct answer. It always makes me smile and never gets old.

brown monekyThere is a section of this app which is a fun sounds exercise as children are introduced to a sound behind a curtain and must decide which of two objects made this noise – such as a slurping sound that one hears and then choosing between a full cup with a straw or a toy car. The details of this area are very cute, including a cat that opens and closes the privacy curtain as well as a dog that performs these sounds, explaining the correct choice. I am happy that users can replay the sounds if they need to. Children will appreciate the fun, musical, and animated moment that rewards correct answers.

A character creator is included giving one a chance to add clothing, hair, a hat, and facial elements with a tap, as is a sticker scene where one can add to and animate a street scene with cars, buildings, trees, birds, or other characters. I do enjoy the elements that one is offered such as the button to add a new character – seen as footprints which with a touch will deliver a man in a trench coat, dog, bird or robot – keeping me tapping to see who else may be included. Novel elements typical of what makes Busythings apps so delightful.

chickenAnother favorite area of this bundle is where one must plug holes in the road to help Chicken drive his tractor without incident. I was happy to re-visit Chicken, a character from Block a Doodle do, another spatial application involving Chicken and his tractor, who there was being blocked-in by traffic. This section will remind parents of Tetris as one will need to drag and rotate a shape to fit into the hole seen on the road. Ultimately a monster wearing a construction hat will need to be in this hole, so do choose the correct shape and orientation that allows this monster some space within the cut-out as well. Later this monster is on the move making this process more difficult.

There certainly is a lot of content within these apps, and I am happy to have visited with some of the characters from the other apps in the Busythings library – a very nice introduction into the look and stylings of Busythings apps which are uniformly colorful and cartoony with a great sense of style and whimsy.

stickersI have quickly grown to be a huge fan of these Busythings apps, as has my son. They uniformly include wonderfully odd animation and a cast of recurring characters, and never skimp on background sound effects or upbeat music with an indie edge. Even if these moments are short, they are highly effective and will keep children as well as their parents interested. I admire these choices, and I admire of the fact that there is no canned clapping or laughter to conclude correct answers or the end of a game as heard in other apps – distracting details that always take me out of the moment – and that stickers are not offered as hollow incentives as I often doubt the value of digital stickers to children a motivation or a reward. They don’t translate well compared to tactile stickers, from my point of view. Instead there is a little dance to celebrate, found in most of Busythings apps. Details like these keep me coming back for more.

Posted in: Art, By Age Range, By App Feature, Creativity, Education, iPad Education, iPhone Apps and Games, Just For Fun, Math, Parents and Kids, Preschool, Primary School, Puzzle, Reviews, Shapes, Toddlers

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