The Adventures of Captain Underpants app (Scholastic, 2013) features an easy-to-navigate full-color digital adaptation of Dav Pilkey’s graphic novel of the same name, plus an avatar generator, a sound effects mixer, and a panoply of other mini-games based on the story.
Best friends and class pranksters George and Harold create a comic book superhero, Captain Underpants, and hypnotize their school principal into assuming his identity. Clad in cape and tighty-whities, Principal Krupp foils bank robbers and a mad scientist until the boys “de-hypnotize” him. Optional narration and interspersed interactive elements — rewritable signs and a mini-comic — extend the reading experience.
Creator Pilkey’s trademark crude cartoons, perfectly timed fart jokes, and silly word combinations are sure to shock most seven- to ten-year-olds (and some twenty-eight-year-old reviewers) into fits of laughter. The same holds true for the various activities within the app.
You can start out by developing your own avatar — either part by part, using the body building machine and Face-o-Matic tool, or by using the avatar generator which pieces together a body, face, and name at random. Some name combos work better than others, but I’m strangely proud of my two hand-crafted avatars: Snotty Wafflechunks and Cheeseball Barfshorts.
Once you’re set with an avatar, you can work your way through the main menu and track your progress as you earn achievements from various mini-games. In 3-D Hypno-Ring, the object is to blast Mr. Krupp in the eyes with the hypno-beam, while in Skate-O-Rama, the idea is to tilt your way through a maze before the time runs out. But in my personal favorite, Stretch-O-Rama, you have to fling underpants at the waves of tiny robots above you (a la Space Invaders). Classic.
For an extra-silly good time, try out the Beatbox under Sounds ‘n’ Fun. First, choose Beat 1, 2, or 3, then lay sound effects (pulled from the story) over the top at various intervals. The result is a club-bumping mix of drum kicks and crass sounds. As you complete various mini-game levels, you’ll earn new sound effects for you library. Or you can record your own.
For longtime fans and newcomers alike, this app effectively captures the magic of the original series. Tra-la-laaaaa!
Available for iPad (requires iOS 5.0 or later); $4.99. Recommended for primary and intermediate users.