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Mobile, Kids

To Be Or Not To Be by Tin Man Games

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Ryan North’s To Be Or Not To Be lets players answer the most famous rhetorical question ever posed, and in doing so players immediately begin the process of ruining Shakespeare’s Hamlet. By comparing their decisions to the original – via the ‘Hamlet-o-meter’ – the game deftly teaches the art of storytelling, pace and character development through increasingly farcical situations that arise directly from mischievous player choice. It’s a triumphant example of making failure fun – who wouldn’t want to try sending a central character to his death just to see what happens?

North’s writing is excellent; every scene is handled with wit and plenty of surprising chain reactions ensure that repeat play is not only highly rewarding, but irresistible! A compelling layer of strategy, built on subtle character attributes and statistics, encourages countless explorations of scene, plot and character combinations.

Why we love it:

  • Brilliant, laugh out loud dialogue
  • Makes failure fun, whilst subtly teaching Shakespeare’s craft
  • Wonderful character design and art

Buy it here

Transmission by Loju

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This smart looking game takes players on a journey from the humble telegraph through to cellphones and satellites in a series of increasingly fiendish puzzles based on a simple click and drag mechanic. The aim is to transmit packets of data between specific points based on the quirks of each method of communication. Easily digestible learning tidbits are sequenced between levels and while you may not remember it all, the basics of data transmission will stay with you. Superb sound design adds depth to the pared back visuals and the in-game feedback is also top notch.

Why we love it:

  • A distinct, highly polished look and feel.
  • Easy to start playing but plenty of depth for the pros.
  • Gorgeous responsive sound design.

Get it for iOS or Android or Online

Dragonbox Elements by We Want To Know

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Dragonbox Elements is a tactile new Maths game with a focus on 2D geometry. The aim of the game is to help the player recognise and interact with a variety of geometric shapes.
One of the joys of the game is that the player literally draws out the puzzles by tracing over a number of set co-ordinates that form the basis of each challenge. Once a shape is drawn out it spawns a monster! These geometric gremlins are able to affect the geometry on screen when the player highlights certain properties around them such as the matching sides of an equilateral triangle. Each time the gremlin finds themselves at the centre of newly highlighted bit of geometry they evolve into a new breed of creature complete with new powers that can affect the gameplay. Once all the key shapes have been revealed the newly evolved gremlins can escape their mathematical confines and the level is completed. The game has a pleasing difficulty curve although the lack of a help function can (on occasion) leave you scratching your head for the appropriate action. Nevertheless DragonBox Elements is a polished and intriguing way to look at geometry for students of any age.

Why we love it:

  • Original and intriguing Maths based puzzle game.
  • Intuitive tactile interface.
  • A gentle and satisfying difficulty curve.

Get it for iOS or Android

The Sandbox by Pixowl

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The Sandbox is a free-to-play physics simulator. Players are given access to an array of materials and encouraged to experiment with them. Each material has a unique property and will react to other materials placed nearby. This allows the player to build simple machines, electrical circuits and a variety chemistry based experiments. Whilst the tutorial gently guides you through a variety of in-game possibilities it is the free play mode that offers the player long term fulfilment. The control system makes the most of the iOS touchscreen and offers a simple and intuitive interface which is perfect for experimentation.

Why we love it:

  • Learn about a variety of materials and their properties.
  • Build circuits, conduct experiments and create structures virtually.
  • Save, share and rate your best creations in the online gallery.

Play it online or get it for iOS or Android

The Great Brain Experiment by White Bat and The Wellcome Trust

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The Great Brain Experiment is a Wellcome funded mobile app for android and iOS with a welcoming and friendly art style that hides its serious scientific purpose.

The app packages up a number of psychological tests as a mini game compendium and record the player’s every move, thereby gathering a wealth of information useful in the study of Neuroscience. The games themselves are simple tests of both dexterity and perhaps more importantly, character. They test things like how you deal with pressure, whether you are a risk taker, whether you are impulsive and a number of other character traits.

Why we love it:

  • High production value for a free app.
  • Interesting game mechanics that test more than dexterity.
  • The chance to take part in a ground breaking MME (Massive Multiplayer Experiment).

Get it for iOS or Android

Sticks and Stones by Littleloud & Channel 4

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Sticks and Stones is a free app and web game developed by Little Loud and commissioned by Channel 4 which aims to throw some light on the murky world of bullying. The player is able to select one of four kids languishing at the bottom of the ‘social ladder’ and help them to earn Kudos to impress their peers. The games focus on different aspects of bullying – allowing the player to defend against attack or display a more aggressive attitude depending on the dice falls. Regular reminders of the real cost of bullying appear between each turn to give the player further context but it’s clearly a game of survival in this dog-eat-dog world.

Why we love it:

  • Fresh and funky art style.
  • Mario Party style mix of game board and mini games.
  • Game ideas come from real life experiences collected from school kids.

Get it for iOS

Nightmare: Malaria by Psyop

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In Nightmare: Malaria you must navigate two worlds – Blood and Brain – set inside a young girl suffering from malaria. Your aim is to kill mosquitoes and save teddy bears. It’s justifiably dark – malaria kills over a million people worldwide every year. Whilst the game is completely free, you will be prompted to donate throughout, with 100% of proceeds going straight to the Against Malaria Foundation.

Why we love it:

  • Graphic, fevered visuals add to the nightmarish atmosphere.
  • The in-game donations.
  • Featuring the voice of Susan Sarandon!

Get it for iOS or Android

The Walk by Six to Start

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The Walk is an adaptive fitness app from the makers of Zombies, Run! and the NHS. With over three month’s worth of super immersive story telling, and hundreds of miles of walking, it helps to establish long term fitness habits. Broader in its appeal than the aforementioned Zombies, Run! The Walk begins with a terrorist attack at Inverness Station. You must escape the city and walk the length of the country, deciding who to trust along the way. The app tracks your steps, how long you’ve walked for, and rewards you with adventure to keep you moving.

Why we love it:

  • Gameplay adjusts its difficulty based on the individual.
  • Motivates long term activity habits.
  • Packed with maps, collectible items and engaging characters.

Buy it for iOS or Android

Full Steam Ahead by Aardman Animations & ss Great Britain Trust

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Full Steam Ahead is a game in which you design and build steam-powered ships in the spirit of Brunel. Gameplay is goal-focussed, with the player being tasked to create increasingly complex ship designs to meet ever more challenging criteria. The game gives the player the freedom to experiment, with ‘design tips’ orientating the player towards success. A simple currency system and strong art style round-off a very solid product.

Why we love it:

  • Game rewards experimentation.
  • Tip system scaffolds learning.
  • Strong art style.

Download for free now for iOS or Android or play it online

Sesame Street Family Play by Hide & Seek

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Sesame Street Family Play is more than your average game aimed at children. The app helps parents lead play, rather than asking them to hand their children over to the device. Each of the 150 games will help your kids build their key developmental skills, and the app makes suggestions based on where you are and how many children you’d like to entertain.

Why we love it:

  • Familiar characters, loved by kids and parents alike.
  • Huge number and variety of games.
  • Family bonding with the help of tech.

Buy it for iOS