It's an ambitious game that uses the iPhone's GPS, the camera and the speaker to create a sort of ARGish geo-cachingish mash up for families. You pick a park, head down there with the kids and run around solving clues and puzzles and trying to find the magical creatures.
I am not a gamer at all. (Apart from the iPhone) I have never owned any games console. The last time I played a computer game was Guitar Hero at Christmas and before that I have absolutely no idea.
But I have an iPhone and I have kids so I'm probably a good test case.
It's very hard to review this game for two reasons; firstly it's not as good as you're imagining it is and secondly that's because the technology is a weeny bit clunky for the full experience. I'll try a review and hopefully you'll see what I mean.
OK, first up, you choose a park. In London you can pick Kensington Gardens or the South Bank. That's a disappointment right there, in your head you imagined you could play it in any park didn't you? When you think about it, it's obvious that you have to play in a pre-determined place as the game play uses the features of the park, but that's a good example of the perception and the reality not matching up.
Anyway. You start the game. Trutton rings you up. This is brilliant, it looks and feels just like a real phone call and the kids identified with that straight away. Trutton gives you some instructions and off you go.
Most of the time the maps were pretty accurate, but a few times they weren't.
When the map works, it's ace. It picks up where you are and triggers the next chapter. There are little puzzles to solve along the way, simple ones that give you a great big rewarding 'well done'.
It does this really well, the graphics are fab and animated nicely. The kids loved this bit.
The best bit as far as the kids were concerned were these brilliant little photos created by standing in exactly the right spot.
They are pretty awesome. Especially as you (or the child not in the picture) can watch the creatures walk on to the screen.
In summary, it's not perfect but I think it's unreasonable to expect it to be. It appears (to me) to be at the forefront of a potentially massive market. It has the basics right, it looks great, it's fun, it's simple and it makes good use of the iPhone. It's sufficiently parent and sufficiently child.
It seems to make sense in an emerging post-digital world. It takes something you can't do on a screen (going outside and run round a park) and merges it with something you can't do with twigs or paper (animate creatures over pictures etc). But also it takes the best bits of those worlds, going to the park is a good fun thing and gps and camera etc uses the best of the iPhone. That's smart and importantly it doesn't feel forced or false. Throw in gaming on the top and you've got a very interesting mix.
We had a great time playing and I would play it again. For £3.99 you can't really complain.
I'm not interested in games, but this sort of thing could easily get me hooked.