Yodel-Oh!™ HD is a super-cute game for iPad based on the classic shooting gallery-style games found in carnivals.
Taking place in the Swiss Alps, help the poor shepherd maintain his footing on top of a mountain on which he is trying to herd sheep. This is not his day, however, as these sheep and rams must be angry about something, and they here are trying take their revenge by knocking the shepherd off the top of this mountain.
Game play is easy to understand here yet hard to master as one must focus attention on a few places throughout this game. The bottom of the screen consists of bull’s-eyes that flip over randomly, and when the red side is shown, one must tap this target before it flips back over. Also, be aware of the sheep and rams knocking into the shepherd up the mountain and ultimately over the top, thus ending the game, so get ready to tap fast when you hear their bleating. Other areas to tap include both extra points targets and an important green bonus that brings you a step back down the mountain. Do avoid the black targets, the ram targets, and Ursula, the Milkmaid who pops up from time to time, as tapping these will send the poor shepherd one step closer to over the top of the mountain.
I really enjoy the look this app offers, really re-creating the look of a period carnival game, distressed with chipping paint found throughout, giving it age and wear. I also appreciate the tinny sound heard as one taps a correct target, reminiscent of the sound one would expect to hear as one hits tin targets in a shooting gallery, as well as the other metallic sounds as the shepherd slowly ascends the mountain on what one would assume is a rickety metal conveyer and the winding sounds used when the dial at the top of the game counts down from "three" to start the game.
Another element that I enjoy is the styling of this app, which includes everything you would expect from an application taking place in the Swiss alps - from the felt hat complete with feather and lederhosen to Ursula’s traditional dress, as well as a cuckoo clock on the top left of the page.
I am not typically a fan of speed-based games, simply because I am not great at them, but this app falls into the very narrow category of speed-based games in which I can be a contender. Because there is no gun used here, the tapping of the targets reminds me more of a whack-a-mole game - my favorite carnival game of all time as I seem to have a hidden talent for speed and accuracy when it comes to whacking these moles in question, and luckily this talent translates to games such as this. This app, although repetitive, is a lot of fun and will be a hit for those who fancy simple arcade games such as this.
I showed this game to my son, 3.5 years, to see how he would fare at this type of game as we have not done a lot of arcade-style games with him. He did have trouble at first, and I am proud of him for not getting frustrated the way I imagine I would have at his age. After a short time, he got the hang of tapping the targets when red and created a slow but steady pace for himself, being able to tap the red bull's-eyes before they turned back around. At first, these targets were all he could focus on so I took care of the sheep tapping for him, something I appreciate being able to do, as some apps don’t respond well to multiple fingers touching the screen at once. Later, he pushed my hand away from the screen, trying to do everything for on his own.
I enjoy watching my son play this game. Although this app does not pretend to be highly educational, I see benefit here for hand-eye coordination and the cognitive skill of being able to anticipate what may happen next. I do wish, however, that a beginner mode were included here, possibly something that these developers could think of for a future update. I think that for young children, it would be nice if the targets did not flip back around until tapped. Kids playing slowly in this mode may not get very far, but this may be helpful for those playing an arcade-style game for the first time. It also may be nice to slow down the sheep attacks as the reaction time the player has at the beginning of the mountain is minimal until one gets mid-mountain and can see the sheep coming.
I really enjoy apps that merge period, low-tech objects with technology, such as Victorian spring-loaded pop-up books turned into highly interactive apps. I now include Yodel Oh!™ to this list as well, as it translates the classic feel of a vintage carnival game to an app with a lot of whimsy and lots of fun. As a family, we have enjoyed each app developed by Spinlight Studios, and I really look forward to see what they come up with next.