Growing up I typically associated public television with one thing: Sesame Street. Interestingly enough, while my own geeklings still include the Street in their edutainment diet, PBS has considerably beefed up its kid-friendly offerings in the ensuing 30 years. From British import Bob the Builder and the highly successful Curious George series to the super-stylized CGI of Super Why! and Sid the Science Kid, PBS Kids offers a solid selection of programming specifically designed to educate, enlighten and entertain.
Particularly popular in my house is The Jim Henson Company’s Dinosaur Train, a series featuring lovable Tyrannosaurus Buddy and his adopted Pteranodon family. PBS and Henson have recently leveraged the brand toward iPhone-toting parents with the help of the Dinosaur Train Eggspress app which, like its source material, focuses heavily on the joys of dino identification.
Boasting solid production values and voice-work from the show’s original cast (specifically father and son team Ian James and Philip Corlett as The Conductor and Buddy), Dinosaur Train Eggspress challenges kids to three different styles of touchscreen gameplay.
In the first and most banal exercise, kids hunt for missing eggs in the Triassic period by swiping quickly across the screen. Uncovering these eggs means little when there are no visual cues provided to discern their locations, but if nothing else it’s a good way to familiarize kids with the core mechanic of the touchscreen.
From there the game moves onto a simple color/pattern matching exercise that challenges players to place the found eggs in matching nests in the Jurassic period. With the eggs properly sorted the titular Dinosaur Train moves on to the Cretatious for its final stage. Therein children must determine which egg belongs to which mommy through a series of spoken clues that describe physical characteristics of the adult dinosaurs.
With a forgiving time limit for each activity and the added opportunity to collect and color pictures of baby dinos, Dinosaur Train Eggspress is an handsome little app that should easily appeal to even the youngest Dinosaur Train fans. It looks spectacular on your Retina Display, and just the right amount of video content and voice-overs help to take the sting out of the $2.99 price tag. Most importantly, however, Dinosaur Train Eggspress offers up accurate information concerning all your favorite dinosaurs in perfect, kid-sized chunks – thus assuring another generation of dinosaur-crazed geeks.
WIRED: features the show’s original voice talent, crisp and vibrant graphics, simple gameplay that encourages critical thinking
TIRED: first game type is a little underwhelming, costs three times more than many other educational game apps
Review materials provided by: PBS Kids