March of the Dinosaurs (Touch Press LLP with National Geographic and Wide-Eyed Entertainment, 2011) is based on National Geographic Channel’s 2011 documentary Escape of the Dinosaurs. The app begins with an optional trailer for the film, which also serves as a preview of the app’s content, then opens an illustrated, animated table of contents.
From there, users can access any of the twelve chapters in this dramatic tale about young Edmontosaurus Scar and his herd’s arduous migration south from the Arctic Circle as winter approaches. A subplot features adolescent Troodon Patch, who stays in the Arctic and experiences his first mating season. Animation from the film is gracefully integrated into the story alongside narration and illustrations.
Though the (somewhat anthropomorphized) narrative focuses on the two young dinosaurs, additional info bubbles offer context about Cretaceous climate, seasons in the Arctic Circle, vegetation, dinosaur behavior and diet, and more. These bubbles also reference specific findings in the fossil record which inspired incidents in the narrative, e.g., a herbivorous Anklyosaur desperate enough to eat tree bark and the grubs beneath is based on study of coprolites — fossilized dino poop; Patch’s feasting on a dead Gorgosaurus (a much larger carnivorous dinosaur) is backed up by toothmarks on meat-eaters’ bones.
The narration by actor Kerry Shale is well paced and expressive and can be turned on or off at any time. Users may also choose to hide the text and just listen to the story.
Profiles of ten Cretaceous creatures offer a 360-degree, zoomable 3-D view of each animal, a brief clip of it in action, and a wealth of information: taxonomy; stats; a visual representation of its size relative to the other creatures and to humans; and text discussing its behavior, discovery, or similarities to present-day animals. Although these profiles are accessible during the story, I’d suggest users “Meet the Dinosaurs” from the table of contents first for the smoothest narrative experience.
One (nit-picky) critique of this impressive app: the text contains many minor grammatical errors and typos.
Fascinating and visually arresting, March of the Dinosaurs is a great choice for older dino fans, from about age 8 up to adult.
Available for the iPad (requires iOS 5.0 or later); $7.99. Recommended for intermediate users and up.