It's pretty impressive how quickly LEGO has transitioned from a conventional toy (sorry, versatile interlocking brick system) manufacturer into a media powerhouse, with entries touching every part of pop culture. Their latest game for Android is actually a port of an existing browser game, made using the ubiquitous Unity engine. LEGO Creator Islands lets players log into their LEGO ID account to continue play across the web and Android platforms, or just go it alone on mobile.
The game is a cross between SimCity-style city management and, well, tiny plastic blocks. Each building or vehicle you create for the Minifigs (those little yellow guys with the round heads) earns you more blocks...
Tynker made waves back in March when the developers released the teaching app on the iPad. It introduces children (or anyone, I suppose) to the basic principles of coding and programming. Tynker was available on the web before that, teaching extremely basic programming with a puzzle-style visual interface and pre-made tools. The Android app is only available on tablets, which makes sense given the format, and it costs $4.99 with no in-app purchases.
Tynker won't teach your kids how to code C++ or Java overnight - it's more about learning to think and establish work patterns that roughly approximate programming to get kids interested.
If you've been on the Internet for the last month, you've probably heard of LeVar Burton's Reading Rainbow Kickstarter campaign, which appealed directly to parents to bring the beloved reading-focused kid's program to the web. The campaign has just under six hours left, and at $5.1 million pledged, Burton & co. now have the resources available to meet their goal of bringing the upcoming experience to Android, as well as game consoles and set-top boxes.
Since Android is, in fact, the world's most-used mobile operating system, it seems a little odd that it wasn't included in the campaign's original $1 million goal to "bring Reading Rainbow back for every child, everywhere." (The show was relaunched as a combination video/interactive book app for the iPad in 2012, long before this recent push, with no mention of an Android app at the time.) Still, I'm sure parents and teachers will be happy to hear about the expanded availability.
For the uninitiated, Skylanders is a series of kid's video games that use collectible (read: expensive) real-world toys to unlock and enhance the power of the digital characters. The games have been smash hits on consoles, but so far Activision's only concession to the Play Store has been Cloud Patrol, a basic turret shooter that leaves a lot to be desired. The new Skylanders Battlegrounds, a more conventional action-RPG, should make much better use of the property.
The game allows you to gradually unlock the Skylanders heroes, or if you've got the titular toys, warp them directly onto the field of battle.
When I was a kid, "robot" meant something that you had to wind up (or if you were rich, something you plugged into your Nintendo Entertainment System). Startup company Play-I wants to change that with Bo and Yana, a pair of toy robots that use a tablet or smartphone as both a controller and a programming tool. The company's crowdfunding campaign started yesterday and has already hit almost 80% of its quarter-million dollar goal.
The idea is simple: kid-friendly robots with kid-friendly programming. These aren't simple RC cars in fancy plastic shells, they're fully interactive robots that will require creative thinking and problem-solving from kids in order to reach their full potential.
Kids these days have it so easy. When I was a rugrat me and my sister shared a 100Mhz Windows 95 machine that Dad scrounged out of spare parts, and we were happy to have it. If you feel like irresponsibly trusting your child with an expensive electronic gadget of their very own, Samsung is happy to oblige with the Kids edition of the 7-inch Galaxy Tab 3. This ruggedized tablet with kid-specific software goes on sale on November 10th at the usual retailers, plus Toys 'R' Us, for $229.99.
The tablet's Kids moniker comes from the fact that it includes a special impact-resistant case and a ton of software tweaks, including enhanced parental controls and a restricted app store specifically for children.
Welcome to the latest entry in our Bonus Round series, wherein we tell you all about the new Android games of the day that we couldn't get to during our regular news rounds. Consider this a quick update for the dedicated gamers who can't wait for our bi-weekly roundups, and don't want to wade through a whole day's worth of news just to get their pixelated fix. Today we've got a high-end tower defense title, a throwback to old handheld LCD games, and a sickeningly cute puzzler. Without further ado:
Do you want your tower defense to have a little more story than the genre standard?
We like to feature at least one or two kid-friendly games in our biweekly roundups, but this one looks so good that we had to give it its own post. LEGO DUPLO is the famous company's line of brick sets for kids age 5 and under, with easy formations, bright colors, and big, swallow-proof pieces. The Android DUPLO game focuses on the branded train sets.
The game itself is a mix between LEGO's standard construction and a sort of "baby's first train simulator." Kids will start and stop the LEGO train, hook up passenger and cargo cars, and build bridges and tracks to avoid simple obstacles.
This may shock some of you, but there's a surprisingly small amount of overlap between tech bloggers and fantasy sports players. (Careful, gentle readers - you don't want to become over-gasped.) So it was with some confusion that I found a new official NFL fantasy football app, when there are already two published in the Play Store. The latest, NFLRUSH, is something of a toned-down, kid-friendly version of fantasy: instead of carefully picking your team at the beginning of the season and trading with your league-mates each week, NFLRUSH allows kids to pick a fresh roster after every game.
Your team will earn points based on the real-world achievements of your digital avatars.
Apparently simventure is quickly becoming its own genre. Today's latest entry into this crossover category is Kingdoms & Lords from Gameloft, which has finally hit release after being announced back in June. Part of the game will take place in a simulated kingdom (spoilers, I know). You'll spend your time managing your economy "on a daily basis", as the description on the Play Store is quick to point out. Hopefully this won't be the Farmville-ian style where, if you cease to play for a few hours, your kingdom dies. After all, plants may need watering, but these peasants ought to be able to fend for themselves.