For the following reviews, I consulted 3 special advisers. They have been playing video games for over half their lives and have a lot experience with iOS applications. They are also in what I would assume to be part of the target demographic for Wreck-It Ralph, although perhaps a little young. These are 3 of my children who are 7,7 and 5 years old. We took a look at these games together and they assisted me with the ratings that follow.
Disclaimer: We have not yet seen the movie, so this review is independent of any feelings about the movie itself. The good news is we’re still interested in seeing the movie after having played these games together. The story looks like a fun one and we’d like to see if play out on the big screen. Also, to the extent possible, I will attempt to avoid any major spoilers.
This is basically an interactive comic that gives the back story to a made-up game within the movie. There are 22 ‘pages’ composed of several frames. The story frames and written dialog load with each swipe (or tap) along with sound effects and music.
Entertainment value 3/5
It’s basically OK. I liked reading the back story because it gives a little depth to the movie experience. I also enjoy comics so I’m automatically interested to a certain extent. My children did not seem to be too impressed and only lasted through the first few pages before handing me back the iPad.
Ease of use 5/5
The controls are very easy and intuitive. No issues with moving forward and backward through the content.
Likelihood of replay 2/5
I’ve already looked at it a couple times but with only 22 pages, there’s not a lot to go back and review. I couldn’t have missed too much the first time through.
If there’s a strength besides the ease of use, this is it. I quite like the art. The credits indicate that Pencil/Ink was done by Roberto DiSalvo. After doing some poking around it appears that Mr. DiSalvo works/worked for Marvel. It makes sense that he’d work on a Disney publication given that Disney owns Marvel. Regardless, I think it looks very nice and the sounds very much work with the visual content. The only thing I found lacking was the option to listen to the words. There are just sound effects and music. My kids and I both thought it would have been better if the story was read. The next app in this grouping allows for that as to many of the new generation of interactive comics. So, it felt like that option was missing.
For the $1.99 price tag, you’ll get a comic with more interactivity and media than a normal paper or digital comic. The story is good, the art is great and it’s a good reason to read to your kids. Or, you could encourage the ones who are learning to read to take on the challenge themselves. It’s also pretty cool to get more of the backstory about the video game in the movie. I give this a thumbs up for anyone how is a huge fan of Wreck-It Ralph or for fans of the comic genre.
This app is part story book, part builder, part racing game. After you pass the start up screens you’ll be given the choice to ‘read’ or ‘play’. On the read side, you get the full Wreck-It Ralph story as an interactive book that reads itself to you, by default. On the play side, you either get to Bake or Race. If you tap Bake, you’ll be able to make yourself a treat based car or cars for the racing portion of the game. The Race side gives you the choice of 3 tracks each with Easy, Medium or Hard difficulty selections.
Entertainment value 4/5
Read – This side of the game fully kept my attention as well as the kids. The children especially enjoyed the extra animations and content included on most of the pages and were tapping all over the screen to see what would happen.
Play – The kids seemed to mostly enjoy the creation of the cars and went back more than a few times to create and save new ones. This really kept their attention. The racing side of the game was pretty entertaining but they struggled with the control of the car on the iPad. We don’t play a lot of racing games so either we’re not used to it or just don’t like using the iPad like a steering wheel. We kept over steering, hitting walls and getting blasted by the other cars. After some experimentation, we saw that different cars had different power ups. This isn’t really explained anywhere but was relatively easy to figure out. The main entertainment issue with the race is that other than winning, there’s no apparent goal. We didn’t win every race so maybe there’s something special that comes with winning everyone but it’s not obvious from the screens I saw if you get any credit for winning.
Ease of use 3/5
Read – By default, the app reads the text on the page to you and includes all the noises and sound effects related to the content on the page. This was a good default to have and didn’t require any additional set up. The kids quickly navigated through the pages but did struggle on a few of them. On some of the pages it appears that you have to use the top navigation to select the next page. After some additional experimentation on my part it seems that if you swipe across the page, it will move forward but if you just tap, some of the pages will just replay themselves. Since most book apps will move to the next page with a tap on the far right, I knocked a bit off of the ease of use rating.
Play – Car building was pretty simple though the kids struggled initially with the concept that you start with a choice of a base car on the first page and then build upon that. They got it after a few tries but it was not obvious at first. I had the same experience myself. It seems like some textual clues would improve the usability or, since I assume the target audience is pretty young, perhaps a voice telling the user what to do would help. The racing portion, as I mentioned above, was a little tough to use and if there was anything that is supposed to happen after winning the race, I couldn’t find it. In fact, I think I kept hitting the wrong button after the race which kept me going back to the main screen.
Likelihood of replay 2/5
I gave this app a 2 overall, because I can see us reading the book multiple times but probably will not be playing the game too much. The app may not stay installed simply because of the size. The ratio of size to replay value is not high enough to make the cut. At around 260 MB, it’s a fairly sizable app and with space on an iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone being at a premium. It may not last long.
Graphics and sound 4/5
Despite the playability and control issues, the storybook looks pretty good, if inconsistent. The book switches between movie action scenes, comic panels and what I assume to be custom animation. The kids didn’t seem to mind but it felt a little jumbled to me. They had fun with it and I think that’s what matters. The game size looks pretty good if you like the computer generated 3D look. I would not call it beautiful and assume they had to make some tradeoffs for the sake of size and speed. The 3D race did NOT give me a headache (which many of the first person shooters and racing games like this do), so I gave it a little bump up for that.
This app is much stronger on the story book side than the game side. It could easily be 2 separate apps and feels like it was glued together. My children seemed to really enjoy the storybook side and would probably watch it, interact with it, read it over several times. The Game side was not so entertaining and the most joy seemed to come from building the cars. The racing was not all that popular and was not played for very long. The biggest issue, though, is the price. At 6.99 and after having played hundreds of games – it’s hard to ask a kid, or their parents, to pay 7 dollars for this app. It just does not stand up in terms of long term value, IMHO. The compelling reason to buy it is if you were just a HUGE fan of Wreck-It Ralph and wanted to be part of that movie world for longer than the movie run time. So, even though, my children and I are fans of Disney and many of the products they produce, this one would not make the recommendation list.