Version Reviewed: 1.1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 3
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
My PlayHome School is a welcome addition to the My PlayHome series of apps - digital dollhouse activities that previously have taken place inside a family's home, shopping area, and now a school. As fans of these apps may know, My PlayHome School is very open-ended as children can choose from a nice selection of characters of all ages and genders, then add them to these school-based scenes where children can explore areas of this institution such as a few classrooms including math, chemistry and history, the cafeteria, front office, bathroom lockers, principal's office, and auditorium.
As one may expect, the lunchroom is an area rich with possibilities as one can help serve different foods to characters who can eat and drink with help from the user. From plating different hot food choices as well as fruit to mixing fountain drinks and helping oneself from other items from the fridge, players will enjoy all that this section has to offer, even if I did have a problem choosing specific items off the plate to eat individually - a process not quite as deliberate as giving a person a piece of produce that can be bitten into directly.
Each of the classrooms included also has interactive elements that users will enjoy. My favorite academic space is the chemistry room. One can change into lab coats and then mix colorful chemicals in beakers to create new hues. There is also a chance to use a Bunsen burner or hand out goggles to characters as well. A nice touch is the computer in the corner that, when checked, offers a few interesting mixing combinations to try. I was a little disappointed not to have created the flame shown when mixing the purple and green liquids, however - a witty Easter egg to find if this concoction did indeed make the fire promised. Also unfortunate is the fact that this app's included eye protection only fits the adult characters, not the students or baby characters. Parents may however smile at the chemistry teacher - in my mind reminiscent of Walter White, which even if unintentional, I am fond of.
Another well-realized area of this school is the auditorium - complete with stage, curtains, different backdrop choices, and even stage lighting that children will have fun with as well as classical music that can be heard over the speakers and a piano that can be played with a tap. As much as these rooms have to offer the creative child, it would have been nice to see other areas of this school such as gym, music, art rooms, and the library as these places have easy ideas for added interactions that children would get a kick out of.
Having said this, there is a lot to like from My PlayHome School. I enjoy how the props a person is holding can be transported from one room to another and left in odd places, like a microscope misplaced in the cafeteria or fruit brought into the bathroom to be eaten by another student. The interface seen here is nice as children can move around many things, placing them in lockers or tossing trash into the garbage when appropriate as well as giving the globe a spin, turning on a ceiling fan, and interacting with many other objects including a Newton's cradle that can be played with for a nice effect.
This app, however, is a little lacking when it comes to jerky behavior as I was unable to flush a sandwich or throw the teacher's bag into the garbage - notes I made from testing this app - but these limitations may serve children well in not re-enforcing such bad behavior, even if it is possible to hide the baby characters in lockers or the janitor's closet. I would also like to see a second tap that could turn off noisy items, like the school bell or the machinery in the science room that each make a piercing noise that needs to run its course instead of being turned off by the user. But I do admire the button one can use to reset these scenes, arranging the objects back to their original places.
Possibly the most interesting aspect of this app is how the other apps in this series, My PlayHome and My PlayHome Stores can be accessed from leaving the school if theses apps are still uploaded to one’s device as they are on our iPad. To do so, follow the arrows leaving the school grounds and walk to the shops or home. I am really impressed with how one can move characters and objects from one app to another, really opening these areas up to a grand landscape that users will find impressive. One can go from each of these areas with ease, and characters can purchase bags of groceries from the market and bring them home or to school to share. They can also bring teachers home to work on the garden seen in the backyard of the house as well as any number of other ways one can blend these apps together.
I do hope to see more play spaces incorporated within the My PlayHome series - police, hospital, and fire stations would be interesting inclusions as well. The developer of these apps, Shimon Young, has been quite receptive to making content-rich updates to these apps which I am sure fans appreciate, as do I. I look forward to seeing what new apps and possible updates there will be in the future.