One of the prominent developers in the educational apps market, Wombi Apps, have developed plenty of creativity apps for younger juniors. Some of their notable apps include Wombi Treasures, Wombi Toys, and Wombi Ice Cream.
Today they are releasing yet another set of apps designed for younger juniors: Number Monster, Letter Monster, and Shape Monster. These apps were developed as sequels to their earlier app Color Monster. In each of these apps, you will find a hungry monster that you feed with a color, a number, a letter or a shape.
Each monster will tell you which item you need to pick up for him. For example, you may be asked to pick up the number 11, the upper case letter B, or the octagon shape. In addition to the voice instructions, you can also turn on the visual help. This will allow you to see the items being asked on the monster's forehead.
If you provide an incorrect item to the monster, he will spit it out and complain about it. On the other hand, if you provide the correct item, the monster will ask again for another until there are no more items left. When that happens, there will be a big yellow bell that you can tap to start a new round.
In the first round that you play, you will see three items that are randomly generated from a pool of options. The number of options that you get in a round is increased each time you replay the game, until you reach five or six options.
Parents Need to Know
You can control the pool of options that is used to generate the options in each round. For example, in Number Monster you can include numbers from 1-5, 1-10, or 1-20. The Letter Monster app allows you to choose letters in lowercase or uppercase, along with vowels and consonants.
In Shape Monster, you can choose to use normal shapes or illustrated ones. The shapes include triangle, square, rectangle, oval, pentagon, hexagon, octagon, and rhombus.
By generating the option pool yourself, you can set the proper game difficulty for your juniors. The only catch is you have to do it at the start of the game, i.e. on the welcome screen.
Once you hit the PLAY button, there is no back/home button for you to navigate back to the welcome screen. In fact, the app is deliberately designed not to include any buttons. Thus, if you want to change any of the settings, you have to close the app and restart it.
Things I Like
I like the way the player is positioned to take a complementary role to the monsters. For example, in Number Monster, you will play as a lab assistant to the wacky three-eyed monster scientist who is looking for futuristic mushrooms.
I also really like how each monster is designed to have a unique personality, along with a distinct voice accent that is appropriate for its role. For example, the Letter Monster has a great voice that fits nicely with its role as a captain with an appetite for sea biscuits.
Finally, I also like how the voice instructions are designed to be conversational and easily understood by juniors as young as two year old. For example, you will find instructions such as “This time I want to try the number 3!” or reminders such as “I can’t wait. Come on now!”
The instructions and comments in each game are also contextual. For example, in the Number Monster app you can hear reminders such as “Let’s continue with our experiment. Where are you?”, complaints such as “Incorrect object. I’ve got to get a new assistant!” or even comments such as “Super! That’s one small proof for me, but a huge leap for mankind.” All of these comments really help build the relationship between the player and the monster scientist.
Q&A with the Developers
To get some insights into the design and development processes of these three apps, we contacted Daniel Lodin of Wombi Apps to ask a few questions. He has agreed to let us share the interview with you.
Eric: What inspired you to create these new apps?
Daniel: We released Color Monster in late 2011, and it became one of our most popular apps. (It was even included on Apple's App Rewind list in several countries!)
We realised that this "hungry monster game" was a fun way to learn, hence it would be sad if we only limit it to be about colors. There a lot of other subjects that would be great for preschoolers to learn using these game mechanics, such as letters, numbers, and shapes.
Eric: Why did you decide to exclude the back/home button on your design?
Daniel: We wanted to make the game screen as clean as possible by including only objects that are relevant for the actual gameplay. We usually have a back button equipped with parental lock, but we believe that an additional button would be a distraction and not really useful.
You start the game, decide your settings, and play. It's not a game where you will change the settings frequently during the actual gameplay. If you really need to change the settings, you can easily close and re-launch the app.
Eric: What were the design philosophies behind the different personalities and conversational styles of each monster?
Daniel: One thing users really like in the Color Monster app is the monster’s reactions. If she gets upset, she gets VERY upset. And if she’s happy, she’s VERY happy.
It is important for the monsters to have personalities, and to show strong reactions and emotions. Kids will interact with the monsters, and we believe it’s important that the monsters respond clearly to these interactions. That's what makes the game fun and makes kids connect with it.
Before we release these new monsters, we want to make sure that they are three different characters, in three different situations, with three different personalities!
Number Monster, Letter Monster, and Shape Monster are designed to complement the Color Monster app to introduce these basic concepts to juniors as young as two-year-olds. The fun gameplay makes my 18-month-old Noah giggle when playing with the apps.
If you are looking for a well-designed suite of apps that can help your juniors recognise colors, numbers, letters, and shapes in a fun way, I would highly recommend these apps.
Download Shape Monster:
Download Letter Monster:
Download Number Monster:
Note: Thank you to Wombi Apps for sharing these apps with us. Both my sons love them!