Puzzle Pop HD – by Duck Duck Moose is a wonderful puzzle app that raises the bar as this is one of the best puzzle apps available in the iTunes store. With 27 levels of ascending difficulty, these puzzles are perfect for preschoolers and up, with the later puzzles challenging for older children and adults. Both iPad and iPhone versions of this application are available.

Duck Duck Moose has been a favorite developer with titles such as the Wheels on the Bus and their other toddler apps which are some of the first apps downloaded for my son – applications he still enjoys, even though there is a vast selection of other apps available to him.

Other apps that have impressed us greatly have been from their early learning series, Fish School, Park Math, Word Wagon and Musical Me, that teach basic recognition, early math, beginning literacy and preliminary music. Every subject tackled by these developers has created an application that is as engaging as it is educational, with bright and vivid, stylized artwork and lovely music, creating instrumental versions of classic nursery rhymes.

After hearing that their next app was a puzzle application, I was eager to see how Duck Duck Moose was going to make this genre new and different as this is what I have come to expect from these developers.

I have to say that this app is a wonderful, nearly perfect puzzle application that has become a family favorite in our household. What makes this app stand out from the crowd is the use of animated puzzles.

This becomes fascinating as these animated aspects don’t just bounce or quiver but move and are fully mobile, with elements such as Park Math’s iconic roller-skating blue bear, swimming fish or lively ducks found throughout these levels. Fans of Duck Duck Moose will delight in their favorite apps represented here, such as the dancing monsters under the Eiffel Tower from Musical Me, or the wonderfully color fish from Fish School, as well as many new backgrounds found only within Puzzle Pop.

To play with these puzzles, drag a puzzle piece and drop in the correct position, understanding that the dropping of these pieces will move the puzzle pieces around it, much like a slider puzzle, making game play that much more challenging, especially in the later levels.

My son loves this application, and it is nice that the first level opens up with two simple pieces that must swap positions to complete this puzzle. The next few levels build on this same style, as the image is cut into more vertical pieces that one must organize correctly. Level five is the player’s first experience with these puzzles not only being sectioned off into long vertical strips, but with top and bottom sections as well, starting a player off easy with the image cut into four corner pieces to re-arrange. As the levels progress, the pieces become smaller and the number of pieces going across the top and bottom expand.

It is also nice that these backgrounds are numerous and are chosen at random for the levels being played, so game play is never the same, and it is interesting how these scenes have varying degrees of difficulty themselves, depending on the level combination. I do confess that the first time I played these upper levels, I occasionally closed and opened the level page of this app to re-select a background to work on as some are easier than others when the pieces get small and plentiful.

These puzzles do have a time aspect as well, as the top left corner contains a timer. One must complete each puzzle in the time allotted to continue on to the next level, but I respect the fact that there is no jarring noise that sounds if the timer runs out and the player is still working on the puzzle. One is simply given a chance to try again with another random background.

We have a few large floor puzzles at home that we like to work on, and I am a consummate sorter when it comes to working on these jigsaws, separating the pieces into edge and middle piles, with special attention given to the corner pieces that are always laid out first.

Not everyone is as rigid as I am when it comes to puzzle game play, but I appreciate greatly how here, a faint white edge outlines these puzzles – a detail that can be seen when the puzzle is broken down and randomly mixed, allowing one to place the corners correctly and move the edges to their corresponding sides, From here I tend to work my way out from the corners, keeping in mind the pieces that fit correctly.

These puzzles get difficult, and my son does need help from an adult after a few levels. Because there is no completed image to reference – such as found on the cover of a puzzle box – it behooves players to focus on the scene to be worked on before it is split into pieces. Because of this, I think this app is not only good in terms of problem-solving but for memory as well, as remembering the placement of certain details makes completing these puzzles a lot easier.

I have had the privilege of trying out both the iPhone and iPad versions of this application, and I am happy to say that game play was simple, intuitive and looks lovely on the iPhone, but we greatly enjoyed this app in HD because within this app, one can move multiple pieces together around the screen, helpful when the puzzle is partially complete. My son has an easier time doing this on the larger screen of the iPad, and the background details that become important when placing these puzzle pieces together are easier to see in the iPad version as well.

Adults as well as parents will be happy that these apps save their progress through the 27 levels, also allowing kids to go back to levels at their comfort level, or even slightly above in order to get their minds stimulated.

Both my husband and I have been asked at different times to help with the more advanced levels, and we found this app delightful, challenging and fun, as well as educational. The sight of the fractured moving elements really brings something new to puzzle applications, as these animated puzzles need a different thought process and strategy than traditional jigsaw puzzles, making this app a must-have for the entire family – preschool and up.

I can’t wait to see what new apps Duck Duck Moose will be developing in the future, as I have yet to be anything but impressed by their applications.

Posted in: Art, By Age Range, By App Feature, Creativity, Just For Fun, Parents and Kids, Preschool, Primary School, Puzzle, Reviews

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