Developer: Dorling Kindersley
App Reviewed on: iPad 2
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It’s all about Halloween in my home these days. My nine-year-old son is literally squirming to transform himself into a monster. And, like most of his classmates he’s distracted by dreams of sugar. His teachers, of course, use the holiday as theme to keep their attention (somewhat) focused; Dr. Frankenstein's Body Lab uses the same strategy. This spooky-themed offering is part fast-paced seek and find, part jigsaw puzzle, and part anatomy lesson. It's a smart and well-designed distraction, but for the price there isn’t much replay value.
Older kids and young tweens are the ideal demographic here. They journey into Dr. Frankenstein’s lab and discover an invitation to help reassemble body parts to reanimate his monstrous creations. Inside they find five puzzles based on human anatomy systems: Skeleton, Brains and Senses, Hearts and Lungs, Digestive System and Muscles.
Kids start by assembling skeletal remains as they tumble down the left side of the iPad while swiping the appropriate pieces into the outline on the right. Successful completion earns five body parts, which are stored in the bonus Build A Body section. There is also a timer. Solve each puzzles in under 20 seconds to unlock the next.
The body parts can be complete legs, or tiny shoulder muscles, and the puzzles become increasingly complex. It might take a few tries to solve the puzzles in time, but once accomplished, they are easy to memorize. That’s the game’s big flaw.
For the educationally minded, tapping and holding a body part during play pauses the action and brings up descriptions that are rather sophisticated. Describing biceps, for example, the card calls them an “antagonistic pair” [of muscles] with no further explanation. But I like that; it leaves room for parent-child interaction.
In Build A Body mode kids use the parts they earned along with a supply of oddities like umbrellas and broccoli to solve one final puzzle. They must put together a whole monster with parts from all of the systems. The monster can be realistic or silly, and easily saved to the camera roll. Once kids think they’ve got it all together they tap again to see if their creature is fully “alive.”
This section has a little more replay value, owing to different combinations, but it won’t keep a child who understands “antagonistic” amused for long. Still, for a brief holiday diversion with an educational spin, Dr Frankenstein’s Monster Lab is a good-looking, well-designed diversion.