App Reviewed on: iPad 3
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
I would like to let readers know about a new app for iPad that I find to be a refreshingly new idea in puzzle apps. Silly Family is an app where players need to grasp the concept of a family tree - a game that demands focus as they label members of a family based on their understanding of roundabout information they are given about their familial relationships. The heart of this application will ask players to identify a member of the family, answering questions such as “Ivar is Sven's mother's husband's brother” or “Ponk is Gloop’s brother’s sister’s mother’s sister” - complicated ways of identifying family members as “uncle” or “auntie” as players work through the tree, labeling characters after they have been identified.
There are a few different ways this game can be played. One section asks players to identify each of the 17 family tree members by dragging the names of the characters in question to their rightful place on the tree. It is not until the end of this game that players will see if the tree is completed correctly. Another variation is that players simply tap the character within the family tree that is being described, keeping in mind that the same member may be described in a multitude of ways, sometimes with a focus on the nuclear family. Here, players ultimately collect five personal items to complete each family section. Players can also enjoy this game by competing against each other, but in this section the family tree is not available to use as a guide. Instead, logical thinking is based on the wording of each family member, making these questions more challenging and without the whimsical visual details such as members of the superhero family transmutating into other characters - a cheeky distraction for this upper level.
I appreciate how this app is styled to be fun and inviting to look at as five different families - be it a zombie, alien, Viking, superhero clan, or a family based on Napoleon - are included with a quirky cartoony quality that I really enjoy, as well as silly sound effects and upbeat, speedy music that possesses an almost period 1960s jazzy sound that together create a unique and appealing app for many age groups. I really enjoy that Silly Family is a creative, educational app that goes beyond the inner workings of a family tree and demands the focus of players as they move around the guide provided, working through the tangents found in each exercise.
Because of this, it is a disappointment to not be able to look back at the mistakes that were made to see where I went wrong - currently not included within gameplay as the game simply stops when a wrong answer is selected. Likewise, I would be fond of including a “go back” button of some sort for when I quickly realize a mistake moments after placing an incorrect name within the family tree. Three bonus lives are offered per day that can be used to save a game from a wrong answer that would otherwise end it - which I find gimmicky. I would far prefer hints to be widely available for those who need them and want to continue playing this app, especially for children and those who are eager to learn from their mistakes. This may make players ineligible for earning the five family items, but the game shutting down after burning through the three available bonuses may not encourage some to continue playing Silly Family.
It is also worth mentioning that although most of the puzzles included within this brain teaser game have only one specific answer, there are sometimes less concrete moments where, for instance, a player may be asked to name the base character's father's mother’s husband’s son’s son, but in reality, there is ambiguity as the father's mother’s husband’s, also known as grandparents, have two sons and their boys may either be the cousin or brother of the main character in question. In situations like this, it seems to me that Silly Family is moving from the inside out of the family tree, and I find that the acceptable answers include the cousin of the original family member found at the base of the tree from which the questions are based, instead of the original character's brother. Maybe both answers would be acceptable, but this is hard to test as the game quits so quickly after a wrong move is made that it is difficult to troubleshoot.
Although the gameplay is intuitive for those players up to the challenge of solving the sometimes wordy relationship questions, I also find the game's menu and other functions overly complicated. That being said, Silly Family has a lot to offer both older children as well as their adults, making it an app worth checking out.