Friday, February 21, 2014

Free “Heroes Of The City” Apps - Great For Kids Under 6

When I offered to take a look at Ruta Ett DVD AB's two new apps based on the series “Heroes Of The City,” I was a little nervous. Too many of the series I've seen for the ages 2 to 6 set narrowly target either boys or girls; it's as if the developers don't know how to appeal to both genders. Oh sure, they'll throw in a token member of the opposite sex, but often those caricatures are amazingly sexist, with girls being unduly frilly and shallow while the boys are portrayed as distractedly rambunctious. Fortunately, this is not the case with “Heroes Of The City” which boasts both a male and female lead character, with each being a brave and role-model in his and her own right (for more on the series itself, click here:

The first app I looked at was the HOTC movie app. It's description in the Google Play Store lists “more than six hours of entertaining movies, nine exciting games” and more. Read further down, however, and you'll discover that the freebies in this app are really “one full movie episode, three games, and a music video.” Fair enough, nothing is being hidden, but do the freebies justify downloading the app, especially if you have no intention of purchasing the add-ons?

Sure, if you want to keep your kid amused, say, in a doctor's office or on a car ride. I tried the app out on two kids, one age 3 and the other a 5-year old. The movie and video they blew through quickly and had no desire to look at either again. Of the puzzles, the train game was the most popular. In it, you have to place puzzle pieces in the correct order in order to get the train to its destination. It requires planning and was lots of fun (yes, I took a turn...but only for research purposes, you know). I wish, however, that the app had contained an “undo” button so that the child (or I) could have corrected a mistaken move (okay, I really was the one who needed it). The game was definitely not designed for the 3-year old, who grew frustrated when the levels got harder. The other free game, a matching challenge, was also popular, although the 5-year old commented, “I've seen games like this a million times!” These kids are just sooooo savvy!

The graphics themselves are lovely and everything looked great on my phone screen.  Another bonus is that the music did not offend my adult ears, so you won't be humming it ad nauseum. The only problem I had with this app was that I had to turn the phone off in order to get it to stop working. Not fun, but not bothersome enough to get me to uninstall it. Again, this app will keep the kids busy for maybe an hour or two, but really, do you want kids at that age on video much longer than that? Probably not.

The second app I looked at is the “Heroes Of The City” book app. One story, a memory game, and a music video are free with, of course, options to buy more. Kids can either read the story alone or have the story read to them. The memory game is challenging and definitely not for the kids under 5; I had trouble with it. The kids blew through the entire app in about 10 minutes. Maybe if I'd have been willing to shell out a few dollars, they would have liked it more, but so be it. And again, I had to turn my phone off to disengage the app. My recommendation is to download both apps with the understanding that after the kids have played them, maybe twice, you'll be uninstalling them.

The best part of trying them was my introduction to the “Heroes Of The City” series itself, which is really sweet and imparts a positive message about being helpful and cooperating, something some 3 to 5-year olds have trouble doing (actually, many teens and adults also have difficulties with this as well). Quick tip: I recommend liking HOTC on Facebook where you will gain insight into how Heroes was developed. I found it fascinating, especially after reading some of the posts from the developers and then looking at the apps again.

Stay tuned, over the coming weeks, for more on “Heroes Of The City.” And please check back in with me over the weekend. For the first time in a long one, the Northeast is being spared snow, although I just received a notice that there's a tornado in the area. Over the last two years we've had a hurricane, plague of cicadas, record-breaking snow, now a tornado. When are the rest of the Biblical plagues coming?

Ta-ta for now!

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