App Reviewed on: iPad 3
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
As readers may know, my son and I are big Dr. Panda fans as many of their apps allow children to role-play their way through differently themed apps such as Dr. Panda's Restaurant, Dr. Panda's Veggie Farm, or Dr. Panda's Beauty Salon. Recently, a new app, Dr. Panda's Toy Cars, changed things up a bit, allowing young children to drive cars around town, free of the mini-games popular within this series.
I would also like to introduce readers to another new app from TribePlay, the developers of Dr. Panda, Hoopa City, a city building application for older children that my son simply adores. Hoopa City allows users to build their own urban landscape as they tap areas of the screen, adding roads, buildings or green spaces as they choose from eight different city building elements, combining them to create other details that my son really fancies such as pools or skate-boarding ramps. Hoopa City stars Hoopa the Hippo, famous from other Dr. Panda applications, as well as other familiar Dr. Panda characters who can be seen wandering around town - a nice touch.
My boy has really taken to Hoopa City, allowing him to create his own empire, and he has had a lot of fun not only building but simply exploring how this application works. At first, he needed a little help combining city elements found at the top of this app such as how to create train tracks but quickly got the hang of it. I have never seen him so interested before in the interface of an application, wanting to share with others what different combinations will create for the world he is developing.
In all honesty, my son got the hang of this app earlier than I did, as I have no experience with these kinds of city building applications, yet the second try, I got the hang of this app, allowing myself to build a cityscape all my own. My son would like to point out, however, his disappointment in the fact that you cannot scroll down to build but instead works on the horizon of the app, with the ability to continue working from side to side, building within the same longitude of this landscape until you construct within a full circle.
I do really appreciate all that can be combined to create very personalized cities, but I also found that the combining of different building elements to be less often than I expected. This may be my own unreasonable expectations that all combinations would create new details, which may in fact make these combining of elements less special and magical when they do occur. I also find it a little confusing how the “leaf” plus the "brick” building buttons will create a greenhouse, but not in reverse, as the “brick” button plus the "leaf" does not combine, which may make remembering favorite combos difficult as the correct sequence of these mashups also needs to be addressed. I do, however, really appreciate how multiple choices such as differently styled homes, flowers or trees complete with fall foliage can be chosen from multiple taps of these construction elements. We are also really glad that changes are saved from one day to the next without doing anything special as Hoopa City is an app children will become involved with, and being able to continue working is imperative.
The biggest note I have from the developers at TribePlay is to allow multiple cities to be created at once, be it by multiple users, or just a child who wants to save more than one urban area at a time. This would not only allow different children to work on their own projects, but also kids like mine to plan different environments when their first world is complete. From the moment I showed this app to my son, he was mesmerized for such long stretches of time that I checked in on him to make sure he was ok. He has a great sense of pride when his work is done, and he announced that his new city was complete - almost like a new mayor and his own ribbon-cutting ceremony, but he is unwilling to make changes to the city he deems perfect so he is not currently building within Hoopa City.
This is a common issue we have in our house as my son often builds with his favorite toys, refusing to take down his masterpieces, even if this means he is without his go-to playthings for a week at a time until he breaks down his projects for use again soon. Because of this, Dr. Panda should feel in good company with this conundrum - an issue that could have been avoided entirely if multiple cities could be build independently at the same time - an update that I would whole-heartedly appreciate.
Aside from this issue, Hoopa City is a really creative app for children who may not be ready for other apps such as Minecraft, but who are ready to do some city planning of their own. Please note that the photos within this review are my son’s work with a few small areas I added for further testing purposes. I dare not modify too much of his city or I will experience the wrath of my six year old as he takes Hoopa City very seriously - quite the compliment, to be sure.