Thursday, August 15, 2013

Jetpack Journeys (App Review) by Playcloud / Inkology (Version reviewed - iPad) #ReadItMD13 Theme Week - "Space"

This week on ReadItDaddy as part of our #ReadItMD13 Theme Week celebrating Space Exploration we've looked at various books that broach the subject in brilliant ways for young children to understand.

On the app side of things, it's actually quite difficult to source decent space-faring apps that appeal to children around Charlotte's age. Some are quite wordy, and go into great technical detail (fine if your child can read and explore on their own but not great if your child is just learning to read and finds some words and terms quite difficult).

Step forward Jetpack Journeys, a fun game that mixes together engaging gameplay and presentation with a goodly dose of facts about our solar system and the planets therein.

Dom Conlon, part of the team at Playcloud, came up with the idea of an app that would appeal to his own young son.

"I love space and I love chatting to my son about it. When I first started talking to him about little facts (like that it takes light 8 minutes to get from the Sun to the Earth but that before that it has to bounce around for 30,000 years to actually get to the surface!) I was looking for cool facts. Everything seemed just slightly too old and there were no CBEEBIES level of fun to things."

Jetpack Journeys eschews text-heavy scientific explanations for good old fashioned intuitive gameplay encouraging creativity, building and exploration. 

O-Boy embarks on a journey around the red planet, Mars in "Jetpack Journeys"

Your young rocketeers pick their favourite hero from a selection (you can see O-Boy, Pippa, Izzie and Barney in our header) and then jet off on their first mission, picking a planet to explore and navigating there in their spaceship. As each mission passes, children get the chance to build their own spaceship, strapping engines, crew compartments and nosecones together to come up with wild and wonderful designs using a pool of spacey-looking components (we loved the tintoy robot one!)

Building the perfect spacecraft in "Jetpack Journeys". Love the nod to Blakes 7 :)
When landing on a planet, things get slightly more precarious as you have to navigate your spacefaring explorer around the planet's surface, collecting all the bits of your broken rocket before blast-off. 

There are shades of the classic game "Jetpac" in here for old-school retro gamers like myself, though the game neatly does away with any laser-blasting silliness or alien destruction in favour of offering exploration and fun over mindless shooting. 

Production wise, the game feels nicely put together (Loved the "Button Moon-esque" theme tune when the app starts up). There are times when I think the game could've explained its own interface a little better (children don't always intuitively pick up on GUI things that seasoned gamers and adults may find 'natural') but with a grown-up around to guide them around any potential sticking points, there's hours of fun to be had with Jetpack Journeys for young gamers just cutting their teeth with phone and tablet games. 

If your children are interested in space, love the idea of exploring our solar system with a great little character in tow, and can't wait to build their own spaceships, let them blast out into the stratosphere with Jetpack Journeys. 

If the app has given you an appetite to explore more in the Jetpack Journeys universe, download the free Jetpack Journeys Magazine and visit the Jetpack Journeys Website.

Charlotte's best bit: The Spaceship Constructor. A great little mini-game in its own right.

Daddy's favourite bit: A fun and neat little exploration and action game, and a great way to set your kids on the path to discovering the magic of space.

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