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Review: Dinosaur Train Camera Catch

Neat Concept Scuttled by Lack of Variety

About.com Rating 2.5 Star Rating

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Review: Dinosaur Train Camera Catch
Image © PBS

I was but a wee lad when I decided that I wanted to be a journalist someday. Fast forward to today and you could say that I’ve been quite faithful to my chosen craft. Nevertheless, I must admit that wanting to become an archaeologist was a close second. The reason? Dinosaurs. (I mean, seriously, could there be any other reason for a young kid’s fascination with archeology?). I was just absolutely fascinated by the creatures.

Having abandoned the archaeologist career route, though, the ways for yours truly to get his dinosaur-loving groove on these days is sadly limited. Instead of venturing forth to the Gobi Desert to hunt for bones, I basically have to, you know, watch movies like Jurassic Park. Well, that and try out apps like Dinosaur Train Camera Catch. Based on the PBS show, the app sports an interesting premise — you basically use your iPhone, iPod or iPad as a virtual camera to find and take pictures of cartoon versions of the prehistoric beasts.

It’s certainly a neat idea in theory. By using the iOS devices’ gyroscopic functionality, you could move your iPhone or iPad around and the app changes scenery by simulating an actual 360 degree world. As part of the process, the game also tasks you with finding a certain type of creature. The target you have to find could be a pterodactyl or prehistoric bird of a certain color. Find the requisite creature and you progress through the next stage, which ups the the ante a bit on your creature search. Users can also save their virtual photos for later viewing. Finish all the stages and little ones get a congratulatory message to boost their confidence, along with a code for downloading a coloring page from the Dinosaur Train website.

With its mix of cute prehistoric animals in cartoon form and use of a virtual 360-degree camera, Dinosaur Train Camera Catch sounds like the perfect ingredient for countless hours of fun for kids. Just plopping a kid on a swiveling chair and letting them spin around with iPhone or iPad in hand is guaranteed to amuse them — for a while. I emphasize “for a while” because it pertains to a key issue with Dinosaur Train Camera Catch. Despite its neat concept, the app suffers from one glaring flaw -- lack of variety. First off, it only features a few prehistoric creatures and only airborne ones at that. Technically, you’re limited to color-swapped versions of just a couple of flying animals and no land-based dinos at all. That means no T-Rex, brontosaurus or triceratops. The activity itself is also quite short and lacks the kind of variety that folks expect in their games these days. Users can go through the app’s stages rather quickly with nothing else to do except repeat the whole short process again. It would have been nice for example, to have night scenes where you’re limited to a spotlight or interactive elements that give players a more satisfying sense of participation in the games. Maybe you can even have animals that pop in and out of bushes to give you more of a challenge.

Basically, the game just needs some variety a well as extra length to make it a more in-depth and enjoyable experience. As it is now, even little children could lose interest in this game after just a few minutes because there isn’t much to do and everything just ends so quickly. As such, I think this game is for really young kids only.

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DINOSAUR TRAIN CAMERA CATCH

  • Platform: iPod, iPhone and iPad devices with iOS 3.0 and higher
  • Cost: $2
  • Final rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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