Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 3
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
Peg + Cat: The Tree Problem is a new app that I am eager to share with readers, which is based on the PBS kids' show of the same name. I must admit that my son and I have not seen much of Peg + Cat, so I entered the testing of this app as an outsider instead of a fan - and I am happy to say that this application, full of problem-solving exercises and early math concepts, can easily be enjoyed by children who are not familiar with this educational children's show.
What you need to know is this: Cat, a friendly blue cat, is constantly getting stuck in trees as seen in the six different scenes within. Each of these areas has a unique theme and gameplay as children will need to help Cat make his way to Peg across the screen. From an urban setting where one needs to build a bridge consisting of different sized beams for Cat, to the lining up or taking away of various sizes of boxes in Peg's backyard to allow Cat to jump down with ease, to the rolling and stacking of snowballs or taking away of these obstacles to allow Cat to climb down from yet another unfortunate arbor situation, children will need to use spatial reasoning to help Cat out of some pretty tricky situations.
Other times children will need to raise or lower a prop that Cat needs to walk across, and there is a good level of creativity incorporated into these scenes, such as geysers to adjust in order to make crossing over to Peg easy, plants that are grown to allow Cat to gradually jump to safety, as well as the need aid to Cat (who is stuck in a Broadway stage tree) by adjusting artificial clouds and other objects attached to ropes to aid his descent. I am quite fond of how these areas become more difficult over time, as the Broadway section later includes the use of pulleys and even a chandelier Cat needs to move under to further add to the thinking children will need to do to help him down.
The look of this app is grandly colorful full of details and with a bold sense of a quirky, detail-rich, hand-crafted style that includes the faint look of graph paper and mathematical equations faintly seen within the background of these scenes as a nod to the math and science touched upon here (and also seen within the related TV show). I do appreciate these elements that are included more for the benefit of adults as well as some other witty references by Cat, including how he sings a bit for help within the Broadway scene - to the theme of "Cats," no less. From a cityscape, farm scene, snowscape, the South Pole, and a dino-themed area, all of these sections are full of different hues and numerous fun, quirky details, yet all possess the same presumably hand-drawn qualities that make this app polished and quite special.
With a total of 30 levels, each of these areas includes five levels of difficulty that one can work through, and I am very happy to say that this app really allows one to focus on the tasks at hand without any interruptions involving stickers or badges. These levels do need to be unlocked, but once they are children are free to attempt any difficulty they see fit - although I have had some glitchy moments where this app does not allow me to choose a level of difficulty. A button is included to tap for help, but this help is very general in nature instead of a solution to the level at hand. However, in early levels there may be a helpful template of sorts to fill in and Cat may give some words of wisdom, such as asking to lower some of the objects used to cross to Peg in order to create descending stepping stones instead of a straight cross with a drop - which I appreciate.
Peg + Cat: The Tree Problem will be a hit with preschool-aged children and older siblings, as well as fans of the show and those unversed. I admire how much time is actually spent thinking of ways to help Cat instead of creating an avatar or collecting badges as a reward, because playing an engaging app really should be reward enough. Time spent with Peg + Cat: The Tree Problem will be guilt-free for parents as children dig their heels into this thoughtfully developed app that I have greatly enjoyed reviewing.