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Daily iPad App: Numberlys uses clever animation to teach your kids their letters

It’s not too often that I stumble on an app that’s so well done that I can’t help but say, “Wow, this is fantastic.”

Numberlys is one of those apps. It’s a learning game for younger kids, but it’s not what you would expect. Made by the Oscar-nominated Moonbot Studios, the game uses wonderful, Pixar-quality animation to tell the story of how letters are created.

It has a 50′s science fiction motif that’s inspired by Metropolis and other similar movies. The storyline is engaging, the animation is top notch and the music score is superb.

The app begins by telling you about the Numberlys and their drab existence. It uses a captivating storyline, mini-games and repetitive phrases to introduce and reinforce each letter in the alphabet. It takes about five minutes to complete each new letter and during that time you’re exposed to the letter about 10 to 20 times.

I don’t want to delve too much into the app and reveal the plot or the games because that is part of the fun! You’re always waiting to see what story, game or Numberlys character is coming up next. If you don’t want to wait, the app has basic controls that let you jump forward or backward to any section in the game. You can also move one letter at a time using the navigation arrows. The controls match the industrial styling of the game, which is a nice touch.

That being said, I do have one critique of the app and it’s the mini-games. They were varied and fun, but a few were difficult to figure out, especially for younger children. I had to get my 11-year old to step in every once in a while and solve the mini-game for his little sister. He enjoyed helping, she enjoyed the attention and together they breezed through those few moments when she was confused.

Many people may wonder about the replay value of a learning game that is linear and story-driven. Thanks to the controls that let you move freely between the letters, the replay value is fairly high. I will admit that once my kids listened to the story and went through all the letters, they didn’t go through the whole story again. Instead, they chose to revisit the individual mini-games they liked the best. In my mind, that’s not a bad thing as they were still learning and actively engaged with the app.

I can’t say enough good things about Numberlys. It’s an excellent game for kids that’ll help reinforce their letters. It’s also entertaining for adults who still have some kid left inside them. Yes, the US$5.99 price tag is high compared to most kid-oriented apps, but I can say undoubtedly that Numberlys is worth the extra cost.

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