Thursday, 6 September 2012

Toca Doctor HD Lite by Bonnier Digital - App of the Week

We're relatively new to the app game so apologies if we're raving about things that you've already seen, already enjoyed and have moved on from. The Toca series from Bonnier Digital absolutely sets the benchmark for kid-friendly apps. We've already reviewed their excellent Toca Kitchen Monsters app, and now we're taking a look at the 'lite' version of Toca Doctor HD.

At a piffling 6mb and available for free, Toca Doctor for iPhone and iPad is the sort of app that anyone developing apps for kids needs to take a long hard look at before patting themselves on the back that they've written 'the next Angry Birds'.

From the moment the Toca Boca screen loads (each with a different theme geared around whatever Toca app you're playing), your kids will be bouncing up and down with excitement.

The presentation of these apps is faultless. Superb graphics with a 60s kitsch retro vibe are just the start of the attractive package. Where the Toca apps score really highly is in the sound production and control systems Bonnier Digital use. They obviously rigorously test these apps out on kids so kids don't need to mess around with virtual controls, wade through annoying user interfaces, and pester mum and dad for help every 5 seconds. The Toca range is just that intuitive that kids can get on and enjoy them with the minimum of fuss.

For a 'game' that offers kids the chance to become virtual surgeons and perform all sorts of (sometimes quite icky) operations, Toca Doctor is the 21st century equivalent of ripping out someone's funny bone with a tiny pair of tweezers, playing that hoary old MB Games favourite 'Operation' (which has now changed beyond all recognition and is, to be quite frank, a bit pants now compared to what it used to be like).

Toca Doctor HD Lite gives you a teasing taste of 5 puzzles from a total of 18 available in the full version. A poor kid wraps his bike around a tree and ends up injured, so it's up to you and your miniature doctor buddy to find out what's wrong and perform the necessary surgery to get your patient back to full health.

From top to toe you'll be working on a broken leg, tweaking splinters out of the poor little waif's hands, even giving him a pill to cure his dicky tummy.

As I mentioned before, it's the absolute genius way the developers take full advantage of the iPad (or iPhone's) touch screen to provide really fantastic controls that feel absolutely bang on the nail. I swear to you, you'll be sneaking in to extract those splinters more than once, it just feels so satisfying, like popping bubble wrap.

Though your children will rattle through the lite version fairly quickly, the ever-present lure of the other 13 puzzles will no doubt have you umming and ahhing about the full version price (£2.49 for the iPad, £1.99 for the iPhone). When you consider how much that skinny latte cost you this morning in Starbucks, surely a couple of quid is absolutely nothing compared to the hours of peace and quiet you'll get when you let your kids loose on this.

Toca Doctor HD Lite is available from iTunes for the iPad and iPhone

Charlotte's best bit: Without a doubt, taking those splinters out - oh and the lovely "hello!" you get from the stomach pill too. So cute!

Daddy's favourite bit: It's all so brilliantly slick and so easy to use. Kids from 2 to 102 will be able to play this easily and will love the sights and sounds.