Developer: dotnamestudios
Price: 2.99
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

iPad Integration Rating: ★★★★★
User Interface Rating: ★★★★½
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Who wouldn’t want to visit a real Jurassic park? But then again, who wants to be raptor-feed? If dinosaurs appeal, there is a new educational app, Dinosaur Zoo, on the App Store worth checking out.

It lets users travel, from the safety of their iPad, to a virtual zoo so lifelike they will will be yanking their finger back before the Monolophosaurus snaps it off.

The app offers up six dinosaurs – on land, in flight and in the sea – and places them in rich photo-realistic settings, with full 3d animation, for users to poke at, interact with, and observe.

Each creature from the murky past has its own section of the zoo, and a tap will reveal some easy-on-the eyes fact-pages about it.

Users navigate with a map that looks just like the one handed to visitors of your local zoo. But, here’s where the app runs into some trouble.

The map works perfectly with a nice pinch-to-zoom feature. In fact, the navigation system is flawless, as is the rest of the GUI.

Yet there are 20 crates promising dinos to come, but only six extinct reptiles to visit now. The app is new, though, and the animations are near-cinematic quality and likely complex to make.

Dotnamestudios calls this a “starter pack” and promises, as does the map, much more to come. Hopefully, that will be included in the $2.99 cost, which is more than fair if the additional creatures roll out in stages as free updates.

If they come out as in-app purchases, however, the dinosaur-to-dollar ratio, if not the replay value, will stay low. And, more content is all that stands between Dinosaur Zoo and a permanent spot at the top of the educational apps chart.

That said, this is a kid’s educational app, and children thrive on repetition, and they seem love all things dino-related – just ask Hollywood.

I have a “seven-and-three-quarters-year-old” son who has seen every dinosaur app on the App Store because, well, he’s an almost-eight year old boy.

Other apps have more breadth and more depth, but none have more appeal. These animations are so lifelike that he and his friends were laughing as much from enjoyment as they were from bravado to mask a whiff of fear when the Euoplocephalus slashed his long armoured tail right at their faces for poking him.

What Dinosaur Zoo lacks in this first release, in terms of substance, is more than made up for with style and does what any good edutainment app ought to – hide the fact that kids are learning anything at all. It’s dinolicious.

Posted in: iPad Apps and Games, iPad Education, Reviews

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