Bottom Line: Ugly Duckling Tale takes the well-known fable of the Ugly Duckling and expands it into an engaging story with detailed animations. High-quality design, narration and mini games that go along with the story line help this app stand out a bit from the numerous other ugly duckling apps on the market.
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Ugly Duckling Tale by G4M3 Studios focuses on the familiar tale of a misplaced egg hatching, and the egg's inhabitant getting teased for being different from his peers. Though the story line may be familiar, the well-designed features, age-appropriate content, and fun mini games make this app unique.
The story goes beyond the traditional tale of ducklings teasing the gosling for looking different and the gosling then turning into a beautiful swan. After Ugly Duckling is teased by his brothers, he gets lost and finds a rat friend, who tells him to not pay attention to his brothers' mean words.
The rat helps Ugly Duckling meet other farmyard animals and ultimately locate his lost family. After finding the family, another mean duck confronts Ugly Duckling and convinces the duckling he is not wanted. Ugly Duckling then wanders alone for a year until he finally finds true acceptance.
Throughout the app, small mini games appear. Users can also play the games independently from the main menu. Unlike some apps that just throw in random activities, these games fit in with the story. In the story an egg gets lost, so in the game, the child has to lead the egg through a maze to find the nest. In another game, Ugly Duckling finds a band and the child must recreate a pattern to help the band play their song.
I could not find an easy way to skip the games within the story. If a child does not wish to play or has difficulty, then he must either keep trying until it is done or get help. On the plus side, there is no losing or score with the games. If the child does something wrong, he is either told to try again or given the chance to continue. There is no penalty for incorrect responses, making the games perfect for the target audience of kids five years old and younger.
This is a very detailed and engaging app, but there were a few minor flaws. The background noises often made it difficult to hear the narrator speaking. This is especially true if a child likes tapping animals to make them speak during the narration. The noises can be disabled, but the volume for narration, music and animal noises cannot be independently modified.
While the narrator speaks, the text appears on screen. Generally, the words appearing match the spoken words, but longer phrases seem to lag behind. If there are more than two or three lines of text, the narrator finishes speaking roughly four words ahead of the text appearing on screen. The speed of the text appearing on screen either needs to go a little bit faster, or perhaps all the text could be displayed at once with each word being highlighted as it is read aloud.
The quality of the narration is superb; however, it would be nice to have the ability to disable narration to allow a child to read on his own. I was impressed that the story and narration are available in four languages — English, Spanish, French and German. It is easy to change the language preference in the settings screen from the main menu.
With the availability of dozens of Ugly Duckling-based apps, Ugly Duckling Tale does have some stand-out features. The plot, though based on the tale by Hans Christian Andersen, follows its own unique take on the story line. Each scene in the story is more than just words and a picture. The scenes flow with detailed animation and beautiful graphics. The flow of the animated elements goes beyond most basic ebooks into more of an interactive storybook experience, making the best use of the technology available.
Ugly Duckling Tale is free to download, but access to the full story requires an in-app purchase of $3.99. Users can download for free and test out the first few pages, but it's not exactly correct to label this a free app. The price tag is slightly high for a book app, but it is consistent with what parents pay for a paperback book and offers so many more features.
Rachel H. zigged when she should have zagged and twisted her knee. She is off to the doctor to see what he has to say about it. SmartAppsForKids.com was paid a priority review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.