Bottom Line: Alien Bob's Crew contains fast-paced game play with a story told through short repetitive songs. Advertised as "fun for all ages," this app provides increasing difficulty levels for older players, but maintains a child-like song storyline. An appropriate price for the content, and it gets points for design, but the repetitive nature of the app does not lend itself to continuous play and engagement.
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In this app from Amanta, Bob and his space crew have crash-landed on Earth. One-touch game play allows users to go on adventures with Bob, while singing along with short little songs that tell the story and add some fun to the app.
Tapping the screen, along with a few touch and holds, will have users playing this game independently. The player's job is to help an alien move across the screen by hitting objects that come at it, jumping over others and sliding under some. Every hit, jump, and slide results in a score of okay, good or perfect. Points must be earned and goals need to be achieved to move on to new levels.
There are 16 different main stages to complete, and each stage has three missions. The missions are goals that can be achieved within the stage, such as a number of points or getting a perfect score on certain items. At least one of the missions has to be completed to move on to the next stage. These missions are challenging from the start and increase in difficulty. Coins are earned and used to buy power-ups and additional characters. The power-ups can be used for a variety of things, such as blocking mistakes, increasing points and showing hidden bombs. Each character adds help, such as Coin 2x and +10 percent extra points while playing. These extras allow for using strategy to complete the missions. For only 99 cents, a lot of game play and extras are available.
My biggest concern with the content is that it does not allow for continued engagement, as it is so repetitive. For those who are competitive against themselves, this game may hold attention longer, as it allows for a player to redo stages to accomplish all missions and increase scores. The story line and songs will only engage a limited number of people, and the game itself does not add much, as tapping is all a player does. The items that players jump and hit are different in each stage, but other than that, it becomes very repetitive to continue playing ongoing stages.
Each stage is preceded by a comic that tells the start of a story. Then the game begins as the alien starts running. Screens above the running area display a picture coordinating with the song, which is a series of a simple sentences containing dialogue. I appreciate that there is a cute storyline that accompanies each mission, but the player must focus so much on the objects in the alien's path that he can't really devote any time to watching the picture screens. It would be great if there was a way to watch the alien run through it alone, so the pictures could be viewed.
The developer, Amanta, has advertised this app to be "fun for all ages" and to be "especially good for ESL students." I agree that the app can be fun for all ages. Younger children will enjoy the songs and older children will enjoy the game. Unfortunately, these two do not mesh well. Some users may enjoy both the game and the song, but that's going to be a pretty limited group. The tapping is easy enough for any child, but actually passing the missions requires some skill and practice that may be difficult for some children to achieve, therefore limiting their game play.
I find the ESL student part to be a bit misleading, however, as the game is not something that will directly help ESL students. The songs are very simple, and the words to the songs can be viewed from the main screen, so this may be something an ESL student could practice reading, but other than that, it is not any more appropriate for an ESL student than a lot of other apps out there.
Overall, this app is a fun and fast-paced game. It's inexpensive and easy to play, and definitely worth a try for the money. But it's not something most users will play over and over and enjoy over an extended period of time. I'm givign it four stars because of its unique design, amount of content for the price and the ease in playing, but it definitely has some room to grow with sustained engagement.
Heather S. was not sure what she would do on her hour lunch at her new job, but she has spent a lot of it playing apps to write about. SmartAppsForKids.com was paid a priority review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.