The Deskplorers Episode 1 in Review – Doodles Do More Than Just Jump

Have you ever wondered what doodles do when their creators walk away?  They don’t jump, that’s for sure (at least not in an infinite manner).  The come to life and go on exciting adventures throughout time – or at least that’s what The Deskplorers – Episode One: “Knights” would like you to believe.  This new series from Happy Blue Fish has a lot in common with such kids’ favorites as Dora The Explorer and Little Einsteins, which unfortunately includes a relatively short running time.  Still, I think they have a good thing going here, and for younger kids who are okay with repetitive things they could get quite a lot of use out of this game.

The plot is fairly straightforward – you have to help the good doodle characters get the bad doodle characters out of each of the stories they jump into.  In the first episode you get to head back to the middle ages and learn about kings and princesses and knights and… dragons?  Okay, so it might not be historically accurate, but it’s still fun and sometimes useful information.  The narrative is primarily presented to you in storybook fashion, with you swiping the pages back and forth to continue reading.  I kind of wish there were a tap option, but the sliding works well enough.

At the end of each story segment you’ll have to find an object that’s needed in order for the tale to continue.  Where Dora has her backpack and Mickey and friends can call on Toodles for help, you have a catalog to get your items from.  Unlike these kids’ programs, however, the doodles can’t just take something from the catalog.  It cost 100 points to get an object, and you have to earn the points by playing mini-games.  If you don’t like mini-games, you won’t get very far in Deskplorers.  Personally I think you should get a bit of a reward points-wise if you select the right object the first time from the catalog.  If you select the right object you’ll move on in the story, but if you select the wrong one you’ll have to earn more points to try another object.  You can sell objects back at half their value.

There are three mini-games.  Defend has you tapping bad doodles and flicking away wads of paper to keep the castle safe.  In Catch you’ll guide a little blob around collecting bratty cells.   You tilt the device to move around and shake it to temporarily freeze everything, all the while making sure you dodge the nasty red blob.  Finally there’s Dance, a simple rhythm game where you must tap or swipe the screen according to whatever symbol is currently on top of a dancing robot.  None of these games will have any real staying power for hardcore gamers, though if you play them on hard they can be a bit challenging.  Kids should love them, however.

Aesthetically the game reminds me of a Saturday morning PBS cartoon, and they manage to make it work quite well.  The visuals remind me of Cardboard Castle, with most of the objects sporting sharp, distinct borders to make them stand out like pieces of paper.  The animation is decent, leaning more towards the old Johnny Quest then say something like The Simpsons.  Everything is well drawn with lots of personality.  The sound effects sound like they were ripped from a cartoon, at least while you’re flipping through the story.  The mini-game sounds are okay, but get kind of old after a while.  There’s music on the menu screens which is really well orchestrated, and music during the mini-games which isn’t bad, but sadly no music during the storybook sequences.

The Deskplorers is a good game that’s easy to get into and should be really fun for kids.  Teens on up may not appreciate it’s simplicity, and I highly recommend that adults try the free episode 0 before thinking their “young at heart” attitude will be sufficient for them to enjoy this product.  I, of course, am not normal, which is probably why I was still able to get into it as an adult.  The main shortcoming is that the story goes by fairly quickly unless you’re not so good at the mini-games.  Still, for the right age group this is a wonderful diversion with a bit of actual knowledge to be imparted.

Grab It - 4/5

App Summary
Title: The Deskplorers – Episode One: “Knights”Developer: Bulkypix
Reviewed Ver:1.1Min OS Req:3.0
Price:$1.99App Size:89.9 MB
  • Fun atmosphere
  • Cartoon quality audio / visuals
  • Easy to get into
  • Mini-games required to finish the story
  • Pretty short

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