Harry’s got a new pet monster named Zub, and it only cost him three stickers, two sticks of gum, and one skateboard. Problem is, it seems like a bad trade: all Zub does is sit around, gurgle, and drip green goo everywhere. It’s not until after Zub sneezes that Harry realizes his monster isn’t lazy and boring — he’s just sick.
A doctor’s visit, a bit of medicine, some serious nurturing, and several cans of soup later, Zub perks up, and the two friends can finally have real adventures together, playing Rock Hero, finding pirate treasure, and telling ghost stories.
Even Monsters Get Sick (2012), the first installment of the Even Monsters series of story-game apps from Busy Bee Studios, is simple and sweet. There’s a genuine tenderness to the way Harry cares for his sick friend — particularly when reading him bedtime stories. Zub’s gradual transformation from lethargic phlegm-monster to breakdancing best friend is humorous, and the narrative subtly assuages possible fears of visiting the doctor.
Each page offers a variety of touchscreen interactions in the form of basic mazes, counting and memory games, hidden animations, and sound effects. (Zub’s groans are a cross between a Wookie’s and what I imagine a stegosaurus would have sounded like.) Perhaps my favorite game is helping Zub recover by launching cans of soup directly into his mouth.
By clicking on the open book icon in the top right corner, users can choose a specific page to revisit, promoting independent exploration. With both “read to me” and “I can read” features, this app is well suited as a bridge book for emerging readers. Available for iPad (requires iOs 3.2 or later); $2.99.