Toot Toot ABC Review

Toot Toot ABC Review

Feb 9, 2012

Toot Toot ABC is a cute game by Australian based company Game Labs that introduces preschoolers (ages 1-4) to their ABCs and 123s. Children play one of three darling trains who live in an colorful, interactive World. Kids encounter various animals while learning their alphabet and numbers. With three adventures to choose from there is always something for the little ones to explore.

Kids can pick from the ABC adventure, 123 adventure or take a break and race against other trains. During the ABC adventure, kids match animals with their corresponding letter. In the 123 adventure, kids count animals by dragging them in the train cars. What makes Toot Toot ABC extra unique is the use of exotic – or at least Australian – animals; I have officially learned of the numbat’s existence.

One of my favorite aspects of Toot Toot ABC (besides its Australian animal theme) is the brightly colored, interactive World the trains live in. See the red apples on the tree? Click one to have a little snack. Want to show your train some love? Tap his bell and he makes noise. Need a break? Take some time to pop balloons floating around the screen. Children like to explore their surroundings as a way of learning and Toot Toot ABC takes that into considerations when designing their educational World.

Toot Toot ABC also helps children develop fine motor skills. For example, in the 123 adventure, the child needs to be able to click an animal, hold the screen, and drag the animal to the train car for it to be counted. The controls for Toot Toot ABC are responsive and accurate enough for young children to control but not so responsive there is no challenge.

As a new mother I am looking for fun, new age, technological tools to help my daughter learn as she grows and reaches new cognitive and physical developmental milestones. She may not be ready for Toot Toot ABC yet, but it is definitely a game I will keep in mind when the time comes. This cute, colorful, educational game is too darling to pass up for $2.07. I really hope Game Labs continues to develop other educational games for various developmental levels.

Riot Rings Review

Riot Rings Review

Jan 13, 2012

I have been on a search, ever since I got my Android phone, to find the perfect commuter game. What that means to me is a game that loads quickly, one I can jump in and out of without crashing or data loss, and nothing too heavy on story that can be difficult to follow in spaced out intervals. It also wouldn’t hurt if the game is fun, funny, engaging, and a bit of a challenge. And in Riot Rings I have finally found all of these things.

It markets itself as being the “funniest game ever”, and I cocked a skeptical eyebrow at that declaration. So far it has proven to be quite humorous, perhaps even chuckle-inducing. The premise is simple: you are a zookeeper tasked with managing your rampaging animals, collecting them by matching them in groups of three or more. You operate from the safety of a dugout in the habitat while the animals circle around you. You match the animals by throwing new ones out into the rings, causing them to…well, it’s a little strange because they seem to explode with a pop, but I assume that no animals are harmed. If it all sounds confusing, then think of the game Zuma. You also have a few attacks in the form of meat (thrown to trick the animals out of the circle), drugs (to slow down rapidly spinning rings) and a Rhino (thrown to bash his way through the rings and knock animals out of the rings). It’s a very cartoony looking game, highlighted by the fact that the animals are little fat spheroids, and the rabbits are pink. They also tend to growl menacingly as they circle your hiding place, which is also made funnier when it’s the rabbit.

And a game like that could eventually get old, but the makers of Riot Rings have worked hard to make each and every level of the game unique and a challenge. You start out with one ring of animals, but soon you are faced with animals joining the ring from outside, multiple rings, stones that block your aim, or giant killer bees!! The bees are my favourite aspect of the game because you defend yourself by throwing other animals them. What a terrible zookeeper.

This game is fantastic, and it is my perfect go-to when I’m only riding two stops on the subway. I’ve never had a crash, and I am about 20 levels in with no repeated challenges yet. The different level names are pretty hilarious too.

My only quibble is that there are times when the rings (which will occasionally expand or decrease in size, to mess with you) will sometimes grow to the point that the edges are no longer visible on screen. It bothers me because I can’t be sure if it is a deliberate choice by the gamemakers, to challenge us, or if it’s a result of not accounting for screen size.

Grabatron – Review

Grabatron – Review

Dec 16, 2011

Retro nostalgia never seems to get old. No matter how advanced video game technology becomes there will always be a place in our hearts for old-school art and stories. At first glance Grabatron seems designed to tug on those heart strings by appealing to both a love of 80’s arcade games, and old 50’s space monster movies. The music is an interesting mix of that old UFO “oooooOOOOOOoo” musical saw tone (you know what I’m talking about), and that 8-bit sound that never dies in popularity. And the graphical style is also a nice nod to the 80’s era games that did so well in arcades. But look closer and you’ll see that Grabatron is more than just a knock-off or an homage. It’s a really entertaining game in its own right, and the graphics are actually quite captivating. But more than all of that it is hilarious!

You play a UFO/alien that I must assume is actually named Grabatron. It’s not actually clear if the UFO is piloted or sentient, but it definitely has glowing evil red eyes, and a maniacal laugh (especially when it is killing civilians). It even mutters its own name from time to time, which is awesomely creepy. Grabatron is your standard flying saucer shape, but all dark metal and sharp edges, as though the spaceship from Flight Of The Navigator went bad. And it has this giant claw, for grabbing, hence the name. Grabatron loved nothing more than to fly around rural towns, hurling objects around with the claw, or snatching up farm animals and people, and squishing the ones it doesn’t decide to abduct. The controls are fairly simple; it uses the tilt sensors to steer in four directions, tapping anywhere on the screen drops the claw, and swiping will cause the claw to throw whatever it has in its grasp. There are power-ups in the form of advanced armour and bigger claws, and abducting lifeforms will restore your health. There are mini missions to gain point bonuses, such as abducting a set number of Cows or Farmers or Rednecks.

But it’s not all fun and cow-hurling, there are enemies to contend with. Local farmers and police are armed with guns, the rednecks are armed with beer bottles (that they hurl from atop their trailer homes) and the government is armed with some pretty serious weaponry. You’ll be faced with helicoptors, RPGs, and SAMs. But luckily for you, any one of those can be disabled with a well-aimed boulder or truck. And just to make things even more interesting you can get bonuses for killing opponents in style. Take that giant concrete doughnut sign off the roof of the diner, roll it down the road, and watch the points rack up as the tiny humans squish like water balloons.

This game makes me laugh the whole time I am playing. I know that it’s wrong to enjoy throwing sheep into cliffs so much, but it’s the same sort of dark humour that makes games like GTA so popular. Every time Grabaton makes his digitally distorted chuckle while devouring a farmer, it makes me laugh too. The game is fun both for the wanton destruction, but also for actually challenging yourself to the larger goals (destroy a nuclear power plant!)

I only encountered one issue while playing, and it was sudden and very powerful lag at one point when I was pretty far into the level. I ended up having to exit the game to get around it, and it took me out of my grove a bit. But once it was sorted out I went back to human-tossing fun and everything was fine.