By Peter Magers on Thu, 03/22/2012
CookieCoo Dancing Star from ThinkCube is one of those little blessings parents have come to count on in a digital age. To count on and feel good about. Because not only have the developers mastered what it takes to keep children occupied for more than fifteen seconds, it’s not just empty entertainment.
CookieCoo Dancing Star is a delightful rhythm game designed to put smiles on the faces of kids of all ages. Like rhythm games for older children and adults, Cookie Coo Dancing Star features gameplay that focuses on tapping along in the right place and the right time to the beat of the background music. Unlike those games, however, it’s been carefully developed to make it enjoyable for very small children as well as older kids, and it sneaks in a healthy dose of education material at the same time.
The game’s talent for age appropriateness begins with the beginning menus. For the smallest players, parents can quickly set up the difficulty level and choose the instrument, dancer, and song. But the menus are very simple to navigate, with large buttons and plenty of visual cues, so even some very young players will quickly grasp that aspect. As for gameplay, your little dancing star will simply tap the musical note as it reaches the instrument at the bottom of the screen. The difficulty levels are ideal for working up to more difficult gameplay and learning just how CookieCoo Dancing Star works.
And work it does. There are three songs included in the download (Hokey Pokey; Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes; and This is the Way We Wash Our Face), each of which engages children with a well known tune, cheerful sing-a-long, and helps them learn basic concepts. They won’t notice they’ve been given a lesson to study, however, because CookieCoo Dancing Star is just so irresistibly addictive for little hands, eyes, and ears. Each round of play is introduced by a quirky, fun maestro, and accompanied by a silly (apparently food related) dancing character. There are five different characters to choose from for each round, which ups the replay value of each song considerably. Kids can also choose one of three different instruments (the drums, cymbal, or tambourine) as their tapping target. Singing and tapping along, they’ll lose all track of time, and that’s where the ‘blessed distraction’ comes in. Distraction for them, blessed minutes of peace for you—and earned with something other than brain candy (or actual candy, which can leave a not-so-blessed mess). There’s even a watch mode when kids would rather just sing along than play.
Visually, the game has absolutely everything necessary to appeal to a wide range of ages: bright colors, crisp 3D animation, adorable but inexplicable character design. (Maybe not so inexplicable; the game was designed and first launched in Asia, so it’s possible the Apple Faced Hamburger Bun lady resembles something recognizable there. But maybe not, kids everywhere seem drawn to the darnedest characters.) The audio is clear, bouncy, and fun, and the accompanying chorus has a welcoming, friendly tone.
For under a dollar, CookieCoo Dancing Star is a great choice for parents seeking apps that will capture their kids’ imaginations and teach them something new in the progress. And additional song packs which focus on other topics, like animals, colors, and numbers are available for in-app purchase, too. Check it out—it’s only $0.99(iPhone) in the iTunes App Store!