Developer Nosy Crow just won a Publishing Innovation Award for their app-only fairy tale retelling Cinderella: A 3-D Fairy Tale (September 2011). Like their Three Little Pigs, this digital interpretation has plenty of charm.
The app’s “read to me” and “read and play” options are refreshingly narrated by a cast of British child actors, with dialogue appearing in speech bubbles as it’s read. Additional speech bubbles pop up when a character is tapped, revealing more information about his or her personality and motivations (e.g., tapping the Prince in a pre-ball scene prompts him to say “I hope I meet someone friendly and kind” and “I don’t think I’m a very good dancer”).
Subtle pulsing dots suggest where to touch when an interactive feature is important to the plot, but the app allows plenty of opportunities for play. Users can lend beleaguered Cinderella a hand with her many chores or help her gather components to create her magical carriage. Another scene allows the user to select Cinderella’s gown. A friendly robin acts as guide through the story, suggesting interactive opportunities, playing hide-and-seek, and offering meta-narrative commentary.
Nosy Crow enhances the familiar tale with cheeky humor, often tied to the app’s interactivity. As Cinderella and the Prince dance at the ball, the user may change the music — and the dance style accordingly — from a proper waltz to funk or Bollywood. Their “happily ever after” is spent playing ping-pong. The grandmotherly fairy godmother wears a long multicolored scarf and glasses on a chain and carries a pair of magical knitting needles rather than a wand.
Users can skip around the story or replay any specific scene by touching a thumbnail screen shot in an unobtrusive pull-out sidebar. Attempting to experience all the interactive stuff in one sitting takes a looong time (and takes some momentum out of the story); repeat viewings are definitely the way to go. But with so much for users to explore, it will take many go-arounds to wear out this app.
Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 5.0 or later); $4.99. Recommended for primary users.