With Nosy Crow releasing a couple of excellent storybook apps in “Three Little Pigs” and “Cinderella,” Disney really needs to step up its game for its digital tales. While its initial Toy Story apps were good, some of the Disney storybooks released since then did not quite measure up due to a lack of features. Now, we have a storybook based on one of the most beloved Disney animated movies, Beauty and the Beast. The good news is that Disney has decided to take the elements that made the Toy Story apps good and apply them to this storybook effort. Is it enough to make this digital fairy tale more beauty than beast? As usual, read on to find out.PROS
More extras: While some recent Disney storybook apps decided to skimp on the extras, Disney has given Beauty and the Beast the same additional features seen in their Toy Story storybook apps. Besides the story itself, Beauty and the Beast also features several puzzles, digital coloring book pages, music and two mini-games. The coloring book allows you to zoom closer to certain areas and can be colored either manually or automatically if you use the rainbow palette. The two mini-games are “Belle’s Garden” — a rose collecting activity — and a maze sequence where you need to guide Belle in finding her friends and helping them reach the castle. The additional features can be accessed either from the main menu or within the storybook sequences. The extras give young readers a few more things to do, which helps improve replayability.
Interactive elements: While going through the storybook, readers can tap on interactive elements on the screen. These include roses that need to be collected for the “Belle’s Garden” mini-game and sparkles to trigger animation sequences.
More animation: Speaking of animation sequences, Beauty and the Beast includes actual scenes from the animated movie. Besides some quick animated clips, it also has two extended animated sequences: the entire “Be Our Guest” musical number and the “Beauty and the Beast” musical scene where the two main characters do their dance together.
Good voice acting: Instead of having one narrator, the Beauty and the Beast storybook app uses the actual voices from the movie, which is a feature fans of the source material will appreciate.CONS
A bit too simple: The activities in Beauty and the Beast are relatively simple as far as challenge goes. This means that the game is more geared toward younger kids but will likely be boring for older kids, who won’t find the activities challenging enough. Even the “Belle’s Garden” game feels like half a game and could have been designed a lot better with some more additional elements.
Limited interactivity: The interactive elements of Beauty and the Beast fall short when compared to, say, Nosy Crow’s Cinderella storybook, which takes storybook interaction to a higher level. Even the incorporation of puzzles and coloring book sequences into the main story feel tacked on instead of a natural part of the presentation.
Other presentation hiccups: Speaking of presentation issues, the resolution of the static images and the animated sequences are different, which impacts the flow of the overall package. While the still images look sharp, the resolution of the animated sequences look lower, with jaggies being more noticeable.CLOSING THOUGHTS
The Beauty and the Beast storybook app is one of the more solid Disney digital releases since the Toy Story apps. It includes extra features to give little ones more stuff to do and provides a nice summary of the Beauty and the Beast animated movie in storybook form. The presentation has some rough patches and the available features are a bit too simple for older kids. But for younger kids who adore the Beauty and the Beast movie, this app should provide them plenty of entertainment.DETAILS
- Cost: $6.99
- Compatible with: Apple iPad (iOS 3.2 or later)
- Age: 4 and older
- Rating: 4 out of 5 stars