My kids love Highlights magazine, especially since they each get their own copy (my younger daughter gets High Five), usually on the same day, and they can’t wait to sit down and flip through them. One of their favorite pages (especially my three-year-old’s) is the Hidden Pictures — they love the challenge of looking for all the little things that have been camouflaged in the drawing.
Well, now there’s an app for that! Two, actually. Mobad Games has a version for older kids and another for younger kids. I got to try out Highlights My First Hidden Pictures, aimed at the younger set. (Highlights Hidden Pictures is the older kids’ version.) The app starts with a puzzle pack with eight pictures to choose from. The items you’re looking for appear in sequence on the screen, and then up at the top where you can scroll through them as you play. The image itself uses the standard iPhone pinch-squeeze gestures to zoom and scroll; tapping on an item highlights it and plays a sound. Completing a puzzle results in a burst of confetti on the screen.
One thing I did notice is that, at least in the younger kids’ version, some items are found in several puzzles. For instance, there’s a sock hidden in many of them, quite often as a bent arm. I suppose that makes it easier for little kids because they get familiar with what an item looks like. If you get stuck, you can tap the “Hint” button, which will pan and zoom in slightly on the currently selected item. You can also use the “Hide Clues” button to hide the scrolling list of items to search for: it gives you a little more space on the screen, and can also make the game a little more challenging if your child wants to look for hidden items without the visual clues.
You can get two more puzzles by registering an adult (though I opted out of this), and Mobad Games plans to release additional 8-puzzle packs throughout the year at $.99 each. Although I haven’t tried the version for older kids, it appears to use pretty much the same interface but with harder puzzles, and there are already nine puzzle packs available.
I handed my iPod Touch to my three-year-old, showed her briefly how the controls worked, and set her loose on it for a few minutes. She got the hang of scrolling and zooming pretty quickly, but was having some trouble finding the images at times, even with the hints. It may simply be that looking at a large magazine page is easier than panning around a portion of the drawing at a time. However, she did seem to enjoy playing it with my help.
I like the idea but I’m not sure about the price. The world of iPhone app pricing is so bizarre: sure, My First Hidden Pictures is only $1.99, which is not a whole lot. On the other hand, you can get something like Angry Birds (one of my personal favorites) for only $.99, and they keep releasing new updates for free! It really skews my perception of how much an app is worth. I’m not sure I’d buy a lot of additional puzzle packs, but if your kids like Highlights and Hidden Pictures, then it might be worth it for when you d0n’t have the magazine handy.
Wired: Hidden Pictures just like the ones in Highlights magazine! Zoom and pan to find all the hidden items.
Tired: Additional puzzle packs cost $.99 each, on top of the $1.99 base price.
Disclosure: I received a free download of My First Hidden Pictures for review.