I saw Disney’s animated movie Tangled when it came out in theaters and since then have seen it countless times. I once watched it eight times in two days. Imagine my delight when I got to play Tangled Storybook Deluxe App (Disney Digital Books, February 2012). Alas, the story doesn’t translate too smoothly to this format.
Users navigate the app with three options: “Follow Along,” “Read and Explore,” and “Play”. The “Follow Along” feature is the app’s weak point: the compression of the story to picture book length does little for the text, and the reader’s voice sounds a bit condescending. While some illustrations are in fact movie stills (which initiate brief animations on the page turn), others drawn specifically for the app are just stylistically different enough to be jarring. Some images from the movie, especially those of Rapunzel’s captor Mother Gothel, do not jive with the text or are taken out of their film context, giving them new meaning or tone.
In the “Read and Explore” section, users turn pages at their own pace and may turn the narration on/off at any point. Parents or children can record themselves reading the story for a friendlier experience. Additionally, on some spreads icons invite readers to pause the narrative to either assemble a 9-piece jigsaw puzzle of the image on the page or color it.
These coloring and puzzle activities can also be accessed in the “Play” section, the highlight of the app. (Personally I find the coloring quite diverting, even though I have giant adult fingers. It is possible I colored a picture of love interest Flynn Rider repeatedly for half an hour. He had purple hair.) A game called “Floating Lanterns” rounds out this section. Lanterns fill up the sky; the player must swipe across the screen connecting lanterns of the same color to make them disappear. Much like Snood or Tetris, the game ends when the lanterns entirely fill the screen. Users select from game play levels of “Easy,” “Medium,” or “Hard,” but even at the easy level, the lanterns can fill the screen pretty quickly. Younger children may not get the hang of it right away, but will enjoy playing anyway.
I say the app is worth buying for the activities, and the record option is nice for the read-along. Available for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch; $6.99.
For more on Disney Digital Book apps, see our review of their Brave Read-Along Storybook and Brave Interactive Comic apps.