Toca Band is the highly anticipated new app from Toca Boca that is both delightful as well as quirky and odd - a wonderful combination that Toca Boca does so very well.
As the name may suggest, Toca Band allowing users to combine different sounds together to create their own music.
This concept is nothing new within the iTunes store, and, honestly, with a few noted exceptions, I never really stuck with one of these apps because making music that one would want to listen to is commonly more difficult that expected, as these apps are often more of a soundboard for noises that lose their appeal quite quickly.
I was, however, not worried about Toca Boca making this format enjoyable and user-friendly, as I have been a fan of theirs from their first few releases, and I know the kind of app they can bring to the table.
I must say that from the moment one sees this app for the first time, one can tell that it is something special. The setting - an outdoor venue in an urban space during evening hours, complete with the sound of crickets - conjures up memories of seeing shows in the summer, and the anticipation is palpable. To my husband and me, this is Brooklyn, but possibly Stockholm for these are Swedish developers, and it is how subjective and ambiguous these elements are which is part of the magic.
One will notice the stage center screen and a row of 16 odd-ball characters below waiting for their turn to make music. Drag and drop these musicians to different areas of the stage, keeping in mind that the different sounds created by each individual vary in each of the three levels of the stage.
All of these characters appreciate their turn in the spotlight which is also included, and here one will see what special sounds each of these performers can create, ranging from more straightforward choices such as a man playing the guitar or an opera singer, as well as fantasy characters who make interesting and unique sound effects, including a wonderful chance to play a thurman that needs to be seen.
There are so many characters to choose and it is impressive how unique each one is styled, full of pop culture references which make my mind wander to Ali G, Tim Burton and Die Antwoord.
I appreciate how performers can be lifted high into the in the "Star" position as the focal point of the band. Do explore all that the solo performances have to offer, too numerous to mention really, as doing so will often raise or lower the pitch as well as generate wonderful sounds as well as charming visual experiences one will want to spend time exploring.
Toca Boca has been a favorite developer in my house so that news of a soon-to-be-released app of theirs is something to celebrate, and we have watched the teaser videos over and again until the app is made available.
My son, typically an easy-going child when it comes to our iPad and iPhone, has had less than gracious moments with Toca Boca apps, being so utterly engaged that his is unwilling to share our devices among family as he explores - a compliment, to be sure.
Well, Toca Band has now made a monster out of my husband, who in turn does not play nicely with others as he and my son try to work on this app together. He is simply having too much creative fun choosing characters to play side-by-side, with the focus he used to reserve for his work as an audio engineer he enjoys this kids app, that in reality has a single song that he personalizes to the best of his ability.
This may be an exaggeration, be it a slight one, as my son has also had a chance to play with this wonderful digital toy as well, enjoying it as much as his dad does.
My boy enjoys the unusual sound effects such as the “frog monster” as he calls a specific character, while my husband focuses his efforts on combining rhythms and vocals together, often enjoying the yodeler as well as other characters.
Do make note that this app allows players to be more of a DJ than a composer, but the experience is still delightful and very musical indeed.
There is not much that I would like to change within this app, but we do think it would be nice to be able to record the tracks created - a function I typically am not interested in with other apps like this.
It would also be nice to be able to momentarily silence a performer with a tap instead of dragging him off stage when a pause is all that one is looking for, and I would also love to be able to set different volume levels per performer so favorites can be heard above others, creating an experience closer to mixing tracks as a DJ might.
I again must applaud Toca Boca for making this as well as their other apps at a price range affordable to virtually anyone who owns a iPad or iPhone - important these days as the prices, especially for universal apps, have crept higher that what many families are willing or able to pay.
Toca Boca apps have consistently been some of the easiest apps to recommend to all ages, and I certainly believe that toddlers up to and including adults will find a way to manipulate the characters to create music or sounds that they will enjoy, as this app is truly what you make of it.
For my son and me, the release of a new Toca Boca app has the same excitement that others may experience with the release of a new iPad. We all look forward to what new apps Toca Boca develops in the future.