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Cricket Kids: Christmas Presents

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Amy Solomon on December 23rd, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar ::
Cricket Kids: Christmas Presents allows children to play with digital toys opened for the Christmas holiday.
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The Witch With No Name Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on July 25th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

The Witch With No Name is a charming interactive storybook application about a surly witch who goes on a quest to find her lost name, with a version available both as a universal application as well as for iPhone.

I really enjoy this story about a nameless witch with anger management issues - a frustrated character having a hard time dealing with the idea that she does not even know her own name, this situation being confounded by the fact that her neighbors tease her, making up terrible names in place of her rightful one.

This witch lives with a wise companion - a bat who is her handler of sorts. They go together on a quest to obtain the correct ingredients needed to work her new crystal ball which will then tell her the story of her name.

It is easy to appreciate all that there is to see, hear and interact with in this application, as the story has a terrific, lengthy and with a nicely complex plot for children old and young.

Interactive elements are also peppered throughout - which I have a lot of fun with, from this witch angrily clapping her hands and turning a townsperson into an animal or creature, to a torn paper-needing-to-be-fixed puzzle. There are also more involved moments such as a hidden-object game and other activities like finding a bug hidden among these pages, which is a recurring element, tapping fireflies to gain a light source or even tossing a sneezing potion into a sleeping giant’s mouth to make him sneeze out a nose hair - an ingredient needed to get the crystal ball working.

All the included elements are lovely, including bright, stylized illustrations and animated details, music and narration and fun characters' voices. A layered 3D look is used to create different dimensions with a nice effect when the iPad is tilted up and down or from side to side, although this effect is a little bouncy and sensitive to movement for my most critical eye - issues most children will not be bothered by.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this story, but what took me by surprise is how a such a moving moment is created as this witch finally gets her crystal ball up and working, demonstrated with the visual of her gazing into this crystal, watching simple animated sketches of her life as a child when she lost her name, complete with a wonderful selection of music and voiceover.

Those with a front-facing camera are in for a very special treat which also took me quite by surprise - a wonderful display of technology perfectly used within this storybook.

Out of curiosity, I watched this scene on my iPad 1 to see how this moment played out, and although the specific effect was not able to be used, spoken cues help bridge this gap to the next page, which also includes a nice use of device technology, allowing readers to continue on with this story for more interesting and unique effects best kept as surprises for readers to experience themselves.

The quality of this app is quite stand-out for me, not only in terms of storytelling, illustrations and use of music, but also including a special surprise for those who successfully complete each of four mini-games, organized nicely to aid those in seeing what one has completed, bringing readers to these sections of this story with a tap to aid in their completion - a nice touch.

Other options include three levels of difficulty in finding the bug hidden, but I do think that even the “easy” level may be difficult for some children. Because of this, it would be nice if hints could also be included if needed by young readers.

The surprise page itself is cute and fun, but those with forward-facing cameras will get the most out of this section.

I am uniformly pleased by The Witch With No Name, best with use of a forward-facing camera, but still a great story without. With no reviews yet in iTunes, I do not believe many people know about this application, but I hope this changes as it is lovely, quirky and fun. I look forward to seeing what new apps SlimCricket comes up with next - both in terms of storytelling, as well as the use of technology.