Friday, May 18, 2012

Trunky Fishing Game

Trunky Fishing Game was created by UpsideDown Games. It's the digital take on the classic Fishing Game - yes, you know, the one at carnivals that you can never win or you might know it from it's toy form. The fish spin in a pond and they open and close their mouths. You have your little fishing rod and have to time it just right to land in the fish's mouth and pull it up without dropping it. So does it work as a digital game? How is it educational? Price: $1.99

Device Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.Requires iOS 3.1.3 or later

Developmental Appropriateness: This app presents the game in a few different ways - a just for fun, fish your heart out mode, and then modes where it asks you catch the fish with a specific color, letter, and or number - so tapping into recognition. I like that it sets up the learning in a game setting - makes the learning fun. You can even have a two-player mode and play on the same device at the same time. Some friendly competition can help motivate play. I actually do remember this Fishing Game as a kid and loved playing it.  However, I don't feel it quite feel it captures what made the fishing game fun. Here, you tap on the target fish when it's mouth is open and drag it to the bucket. There's no thrill of using a rod, timing your actions just right, and then the best part, pulling the fish up and praying that the mouth has closed tightly and it doesn't fall off. So while the app has put the player in the Fishing Game setting, it doesn't really feel like you're actually playing the Fishing Game.

I would also prefer a bit more initial instruction. It took me a minute to figure out what to do. Trunky, the elephant is there with his fishing rod, and since I expected a fishing rod as part of the play, I thought Trunky would have a role in it. But he doesn't. He's merely the cheerleader. A few simple directions would help. Also, in the learning modes, the target is said in the beginning, and then you see the label in the top of the screen. I would like to hear the target repeated or prompts given, especially if the child is taking long to find the correct fish. Kids at this age cannot read the labels, and they may not know to tap on the label to hear it repeated. The letter and numbers are also kinda small to read - making them more salient would be helpful. There's some simple feedback when you get it right, but more reinforcement of both getting the correct and incorrect answers could help support the learning. Rating: 3/5 (aim for around 3 years)

Balance: As mentioned a few more features to help support the learning are needed. Otherwise, the game is set up simply, colorfully, without much distraction. Rating: 4/5

Sustainability: While you get a point for every fish you correctly catch, it doesn't really record your score or keep a record if you're playing against others. And although you can choose to work on colors or letters or numbers, there aren't really any levels. It doesn't get faster or more difficult. Rating: 3/5

Parental Involvement: Trunky Fishing Game is linked to YogiPlay, a feature that parents can login to. Here, parents can look at usage reports (time spent on specific apps, time spent on reading/math/etc. apps), get recommendations based on your child's preferences, and also send messages to their child based on their usage and performance. YogiPlay also has a reward system where you collect coins and can "purchase" kid-friendly items. So this a great way for parents to stay connected, especially with games that are child-centered/meant to be a one-player game. Reviewing performance is important, but parents should also remember to reinforce the material and add-in real world context. Rating: 4.5/5

Total: 14.5 out of 20: 3 stars

Disclosure: I received this app for free for review purposes. Also, I've been working with YogiPlay as a reviewer!

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