The Ponies want to throw a surprise birthday party for Pinkie Pie, but Pinkie Pie is already busy planning an after birthday party for her toothless pet baby alligator Gummy. Unfortunately in order to keep Pinkie Pie’s birthday party a surprise, all of her pony friends must turn down Pinkie’s invitation and soon she gets really sad that all of her friends are making excuses not to attend Gummy’s party. Will Pinkie Pie forgive them for not attending the party she’s throwing? Can the other ponies keep their party a secret? What are the ponies going to do?
Don’t worry, all is revealed in My Little Pony: Party of One.
Right now my 4 and 6 year-old girls are WAY, WAY, WAY into My Little Pony and the star of this app, Pinkie Pie, just happens to be one of their favorite ponies. Her hyperactiveness and energetic exuberance that my daughters love so much, is portrayed perfectly in My Little Pony: Party of One, which is based on the episode 25 of the My Little Pony : Friendship Is Magic cartoon series. My girls delighted in this often very humorous interactive book app from PlayDate Digital. Even I found myself laughing out loud at Pinkie Pie’s silly antics and ridiculous disguise.
PlayDate Digital has done a really nice job of condensing down the 22 minute episode into a 17 scene, interactive book. Unlike the last My Little Pony app the three of us reviewed together, My Little Pony: Party of One contains interactive elements which are evenly sprinkled throughout the entire story, rather than just clumped at the end. While sure, these elements are perhaps not as involved or ‘mini-game-like’ as those found in the A Canterlot Wedding app, my daughters still found them to be quite engaging (and is some ways, more so). Though the interactivity is arguably not as complex, the fact that the Ponies actually talked in this book, won Party of One some big bonus points.
On just about every page, one or more of the characters are highlighted with a white outline and tapping on that character brings them to life with either and animation, spoken dialog or both. As a parent, I thought that one particularly nice touch was that any untapped elements, remain tap-able between pages occurring within the same scene. So if your child accidentally misses one before moving on to the next page they can still do it later (without having to go back a page) and it still shows it as ‘untapped’. Also, all interactive elements can be triggered as many times as you’d like on a page (and believe me…they will be, especially when you get to scene fourteen).
My Little Pony: Party of One has a simple interface where the child just taps the left or right arrows to tun the page, or touches the white outlined character(s) to make they come to life. The text highlights itself as it is read aloud and there are special bold learning words as well as a slide-out table of page thumbnails for quickly jumping to your child’s favorite scene.
The animated portions of the book look great and even the app credits have been animated in a style similar to an animated feature film, with the characters walking into the screen or doing funny bits. The narration is phenomenally good. Not only does the app feature the voice-work of Andrea Libman, who voices Pinkie Pie in the animated series, but there is also a fantastic narrator by the name of Erin Fitzgerald, who does a rather nice job of impersonating the other ponies, so it feels like a full cast of your favorite ponies (except perhaps for Fluttershy whose voice is replaced with a few musical notes). I guess this was to play up the shy aspect of her personality, but my little ones would have rather heard her voiced as well.
In addition to the sheer entertainment value and the story’s inherent lessons about friendship and forgiveness, PlayDate Digital has infused some vocabulary, reading and problem solving skills into the book as well. For example, after the story is finished, the child is taken to a special Sight Word Round Up section where a series of sight words are reinforced using a combination of touch, pictures and speech. Also included is a special Parent’s Guide which allows parents to track certain stats like the number of pages the child has completed, how many of the 16 highlighted learning words were pressed during the app and how many of the 11 ’roundup words were read at the end. These stats are all reset-able.
With My Little Pony: Party of One, PlayDate Digital has done a great job of crafting an entertaining storybook that kids will want to read over and over again. My four year-old insisted on going through the whole app three times in a row (giggling more and more each time though) during her very first sitting. I think it is brilliant how they’ve made the vocabulary re-enforcement and review an automatic part of the app, directly following the story so that it is not skipped or forgotten. The inclusion of one of the actual voice-actors as well as a stellar narrator really helps to make this app shine compared to previous My Little Pony book apps (from other studios). If I have one gripe about this app it would have to be that it is not a universal app and must be purchased separately for both the iPhone and iPad. Hopefully PlayDate Digital will take the reins on future My Little Pony book apps, I know my girls would LOVE to see one based on the recent My Little Pony : Equestria Girls feature film.