Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 3
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
As readers may know, my family really enjoys a good building or math app at our house - very useful for when I need to get my boy tucked in and out of the way so I can perform family business such as dealing with contractors, make other important phone calls, or sometimes just early in the morning when my son wakes prematurely but is not looking to get really active just yet. Although we find applications very helpful at these moments, I do prefer him to work with building toys and other manipulative items during the rest of this free time.
We have more natural wood building blocks than I care to admit, but the toys that I feel most overrun by are those that form some kind of tracks and include dozens of smaller pieces needing to be fitted together. I acquired a large amount of Zhu Zhu tracks free with the purchase of robotic hamsters from a woman eager to rid herself of these plastic parts, along with too many fractured Hot Wheels sets as well as the Nano Bug habituate tracks that my son had to have, which he is still working on earning - a day I am not looking forward to. Although I obviously see the value in being able to construct these kinds of toys in many different and creative ways, the reality of all these pieces is at times too much to bear.
Because of this, I would like to introduce readers to BuggyFun, an app dedicated to the building of tracks that in turn allow three species of bugs to roam around areas that can be changed easily with the tap of a finger. Here, the screen is transformed into a map broken into grid-like sections that allow for easy placement of square track pieces that can be strung together to create pathways. Larger, four-sided pieces of tracks are also included that together can be used to cover this map with any and all lanes possible. Red bug tunnels and portals that, when entered, will transport the bug in question out a related porthole, as well as bits of food, are elements children will enjoy incorporating into their landscape. BuggyFun includes a simple tutorial as well as a prefab bug world created for those who enjoy adding creatures to wander about without experiencing or would like to simply continue the building process, as well as a blank template for children in order to add their own tracks as simple or complex as they choose. My son appreciates the fact that the changes made to his landscape are saved from one day to the next, but we would love to see different worlds that he has created saved independently as well.
Three different types of critters can be included: a six-legged purple beetle, a larger blue hairy fellow, and a smaller orange larval-like creature - each of which can be added to the map at an unlimited level. Good to know, as the purple beetle will eat the other wanderers if given the chance as well as venture onto the play area without being invited. The blue hairy bug will eat away at the landscape one has built, furrowing new tracks as well - details my son and I have fun with.
The look of BuggyFun has a style that I find quite appealing, with a marred and distressed teal background one builds on - a perfect place for bugs to scurry around. Children will enjoy being able to make changes to their tracks while the bugs are on the move instead of having to be in a special building mode as seen in other apps. Likewise, I really enjoy how the red tunnels will develop rounded openings, continuing to change as one adds or subtracts pieces to these tube-like structures - a mild animated moment that really works for me. The vantage point of these tracks is looking straight down at all the action, which also works well, but I do notice that the food one can add to these areas is illustrated from the perspective that would follow the logic of a more angled birds-eye-view, presumably because the food would not register as a dimensionless yellow circle - just an observation within an interesting application.
Because the movements of these bugs are random without any real personalities, my boy enjoys track building more than he does gazing at these creatures in action - a response not limited to BuggyFun as he commonly does not add trains to the wood tracks that he builds. For him, the fun is in the planning. Although typically I comment that a building app is not a true substitution for playing with toys, my love/hate relationship with the yards and yards of various building tracks we have collected over the years makes BuggyFun seem pretty desirable. Without a bunch of pieces and battery-operated runners to keep track of, including an unlimited number of track and bug elements within BuggyFun, makes it a modular delight compared to other real-world experiences. It can be enjoyed in bed or while traveling, making this unique app one that construction kids will really enjoy.