Locomotive Review
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Locomotive Review

Our Review by Amy Solomon on July 2nd, 2014
Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: POETRY IN MOTION
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Locomotive is an app based on a famous poem, adapted here in a wonderful way.

Developer: Big rabbit
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.2
App Reviewed on: iPad 3

Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Storytelling/Gameplay Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Intuitiveness Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar

It is a great pleasure to introduce readers to the new app, Locomotive. Locomotive is a storybook app with interactive elements based on the celebrated 1938 children’s poem of the same name by Polish poet Julian Tuwim.

Locomotive was one of a few apps I downloaded at the same time to take a look at. I must say that by first glance I knew I had discovered something special. The illustrations included within this application are simply marvelous: rich with color and lush with shading, as well as the use of subtle shadowing to create an almost 3D effect to create a highly polished, stylized look.

Locomotive uses these images to vividly describe, as one may assume, a locomotive that also pulls many train cars that carry a variety of whimsical cargo and other fantastical details. I love how these drawings add their own quirky charm to this poem, fully realizing the words without ever being so on-the-nose that it becomes cloying.

I also greatly appreciate all the visual information that children can dwell on in the inner workings of the locomotive, which can be seen both from the outside perspective of watching the coal shoveled into the engine to the closer point-of-view of being able to gaze at a plethora of dials and levers within this engine - complete with an interactive moment where one can add coal to the fire burning, as well as the ability to view the contents of many train cars such as a crowd of people or animals like horses and cows. There are also some unique details such as a car full of bananas, grand pianos, or cannons. Halfway through first testing this app I was impressed by how really well-written it is, pausing to look at the notes associated with the app to be reminded that it is based on a well-known poem that I was not familiar with.

Optional narration is included, wonderfully performed and to me in a style reminiscent of the style of another iconic poem, 'Twas The Night Before Christmas. There are also many interactions that can be found on each page, including a nice moment allowing children to play the piano complete with three distinct sounds - just a sign of the high level of thoughtfulness that went into the development of this app. I equally enjoy how, here, readers turn pages with the tap of an arrow to the left - against convention - to travel to each train car.

Fun sound effects can be heard as well as simple tasks completed within these pages, such as the feeding or interacting with animal cargo passengers or a puzzle-themed moment involving boxes and train cases, allowing readers to tilt the device to move these crates and other objects around the screen as well as other elements best left to be discovered by the reader.

Even better, this poem picks up the pace when the train begins to move, changing locations and tone in ways that really make me smile. There is a lot to touch here, from balloons to break, birds to touch, and paper airplanes to steer, yet avoiding the pitfall of a cluttered app or distracting interactions. Also included is a new song based on the poem that children as well as adults will enjoy. Furthermore, one can download coloring pages from the associated website.

Every element of Locomotive is fully realized, making it not just a delightful interactive application, but a true love song to the original poem. I could not recommend Locomotive more, and I feel fortunate to have had a chance to listen to this wonderful use of language.

iPhone Screenshots

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iPad Screenshots

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