Parenting’s Birthday Party Playtime is a fun, universal app from one of our all- time favorite developers, Toca Boca. A sequel to their famed Toca Tea Party, this app has much of the same game-play, but has a focused birthday theme allowing children to have birthday parties for the special people, dolls or stuffed animals in their lives.
This app begins offering players a choice of three cakes to choose from, which will become the centerpiece of the birthday party. Super-cute panda and dragon cakes are available as well as a classic decorated cake with white frosting and a rainbow theme. Once the cake is chosen and moved into the space provided center screen, the table is set with a corresponding table cloth and a selection of three plates that match the theme chosen, which are available to mix and match as place settings. A nicely wrapped present is also chosen, choices ultimately being a doll, dinosaur or robot each with fun sound effects and movements which one will discover with a tap.
After the selections are set, candles are added to the cake and the screen dims as if one has turned off the lights in preparation for blowing out the candles. Fun, festive music plays as well as the sounds of the candles being blown one by one with the tap of a finger, or all at once as one spins a finger around the cake. When the candles have been put out and removed from the cake, cute celebratory sounds such as clapping can be heard and now the cake is ready to be served, party poppers than can be played with and popped are offered, as well as the present to be opened. Like in Toca Tea Party, clean up after guests leave by dragging the plates into sink found bottom screen, or tilt these dishes into the dishwater, an aspect my son loves in both of these apps.
My son has enjoyed Toca Tea Party app immensely because it is always someone’s birthday according to my boy, and we throw birthday parties regularly for his play-thing "guys," including gifts that my son wraps in old receiving blankets. Because of this favorite activity of his, I knew this would be a huge hit.
My son loves the moment when the screen dims, the music starts and the candles are added to the cake. We make up and sing birthday-themed songs, and my boy always has a lovely look of pride as the daddy to a doll or stuffed animal who needs help blowing out the candles of their birthday cake. My son can’t help but open the gift right away and loves to tap the toy to trigger the fun sounds and movements offered, and it is especially nice that a few taps are needed to unwrap the ribbon and open the box to get to the toy, adding to the fun, feel and excitment of really opening a gift.
As in the Tea Party app, one can drag pieces of cake over to plates, tapping to eat bites. The cute giggles and other sounds that the app provides to bring life to the inanimate object party guests are still present, but as there is a single choice being served, so “players” do not have special pastry requests as they do in Tea Party.
Here, what looks like orange juice and pink lemonade can be served to the guests and one can take a sip from a cup with a tap, but none of the drinks can be spilled here which is kind of a bummer as this is a favorite element of the Tea Party app, as is having two musical selections adding to the experience of this other app, as no music is played within the eating portion of the party.
I would also love to have more cakes to choose from as well as being able to choose the table cloth instead of just using the ones directly corresponding to each cake. It is fun that party poppers are offered during this game, but after used once they are depleted and although this is true in the way these party favors work in real life, it would be fun to use these sound-makers indefinitely.
Since it is a birthday party, it would also be fun to choose and decorate this app as well in some way, and I would love for a child to play with a piñata, pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey or other birthday-themed mini-games, as well as to have the choice to wrap the gift oneself or be surprised by an already decorated box, depending on the child’s style of game play.
My son does love this app and plays with it often. He loves the fact that this app works not only on our iPad, but on our phone as well, as he has asked many times to add Tea Party onto our phone, never really being satisfied with the explanation we give him that it was not universally designed. The iPhone version works much the same way, but here only the orange juice is available to serve as two drink choices would clutter up the screen.
I have not heard any complaints from my son, who uses this app daily, but my husband and I, huge fans of Toca Boca in general, have noticed that some of the elements we love from Toca Tea party are missing from this app, some of which would be lovely additions in a future update.
Honestly, from the moment I read about this app on iTunes and downloaded it for review, I have been calling this app “Toca Birthday Party” as my son instantly knew what to expect from this title as we all have fallen in love with the other “Toca” apps, all of which, except for a darling art app, have names like ”Toca Tea Party,” "Toca Helicopter,” "Toca Hair Salon,” or “Toca Store." For this reason, I am a little confused by the new title choice of "Parenting’s Birthday Party Playtime" as I thought the “Toca” style of name was as much branding as the wonderful intro of each app where the name “Toca Boca” is announced, and their logo of a face and mouth with multi-colored teeth morph into another image correlating to the specific apps’s theme, here having a mouth flip upside-down and the teeth becoming lit candles - aspects of these apps that I simply love and look forward to with the release of every new app.
Having said all of this, my son loves this app as much as he does the other Toca apps in our library of child-friendly applications, and this birthday party activity correlates nicely to the way my son plays with this play food, dolls, and stuffed animals in real life - without the clutter of play food and dishes - and it is wonderful to have this app compact on our iPhone. We also love the the tie-in found here as the toys to be given are options to but within Toca Store, allowing my son to first shop for his party, a nice touch.
We as a family have been won over by these developers with the launch of their first application. I am very excited to see what new digital game they can think of next as they have a real knack for knowing what will keep my son occupied.