App Reviewed on: iPad 3
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Fans of Studio Pango and newcomers alike will be interested to hear about PangoLand, a new Pango app that does a great job of developing the familiar characters of Pango, the friendly blue raccoon, Piggy, Bunny, Squirrel and Fox as we now get to travel to each of their homes in the sprawling landscape that is PangoLand. From meeting Pango at his house and having the option of going inside to explore many tappable elements such as opening and closing windows and drawers, playing with trying on funny hats, tasting foods and playing with toys as well as catching up on a few household chores, children will be engaged with all that there is to see and touch.
With truly hundreds of interactive hotspots, a large landscape of homes and other areas to explore, PangoLand is an open-ended experience where children have a chance to interact with different objects every time they play. I appreciate the ease in which one can add each of these characters to space within PangoL and I have enjoyed such moments as cleaning up after Piggy whose house is messy, allowing children to pick up and toss trash, visiting Fox’s science-themed house that includes the building of a robot and even digging for a few different dinosaur fossils near Squirrel’s place, as well as fixing a car which needs work which characters can drive - a few of the hidden mini-games included.
I do have a few mixed feelings about how difficult some of these hidden activities are to find as my boy did not come across these games when using this app, instead being caught up in other interactions, each of which makes for cute storylines children can come up with on their own. The hidden, almost Easter egg quality of these mini-games leads to some very fond surprises when one comes across them, yet we had no luck finding one of these scenes - specifically washing the car, which has created a few frustrating moments for myself.
Although Studio Pango creates apps of few words when not specifically a book to enjoy and also without much in the way of hints in some of their other apps, I am not looking to remove Studio Pango from the style they have taken time to cultivate. I would, however love more information about how to find these mini-games - if not in a parents' section, then possibly further expanded within this app’s iTunes page.
I have also noted that while I enjoy being able to scroll the landscape left and right as well as move Pango and the gang each independently of the space they are in, the experience at times can seem a little choppy, and it is easy to over-scroll just past the area one wants to visit. Although these issues arose during my testing of this app, my seven year old boy and fan of Pango did not mention these troubles to me, but the app did get a little glitchy when multiple hands of ours were tapping and scrolling at once, making this an app that is wonderful to explore on one’s own but not the best for sharing at this time. I would love to see the use of multiple touches better incorporated in the future as well as a hint as how one can chance seasons as we were stuck during the snow covered winter look this app offers.
Having said this, I am a fan of PangoLand and the sheer amount of area one can explore in a circular fashion, winding up back at Pango’s house after going on many adventures with friends, the way this app opens up. The look of this app, as one would expect, is bright and colorful, with many details to explore in ways that allow children to be creative participants within this app. PangoLand almost looks cluttered in the most charming way possible that children will not be able to resist. I have been a big fan of Pango - a character that includes a vague vintage charm that to me is reminiscent of the beloved anthropomorphic characters Miffy and Hello Kitty. I hope Studio Pango continues to develop new Pango apps in the future.