Alph and Betty’s Topsy Turvy World is the first app from British app developer Electric Circus Ltd. It is a charming and eclectic blend of a fun alphabet-themed storybook, videos, platform game and mini-games. It is child-friendly with no adverts, in-app purchases or external links. The app has read to me and read by myself options, the narration is done by a professional British narrator.
Alph and Betty are inventors who create all kinds of crazy contraptions. The reader gets introduced to their Topsy Turvy World through a series of short videos, done in an old movie style. There are 8 scenes to explore each representing a letter from A- H, the story connects the scenes as the reader moves the characters from page to page. Each scene has lots of objects representing it’s featured letter and the reader can move Betty (and other characters later in the story) around to interact with objects in the scene. The characters can be dragged to move them around and pushed up to make them jump. There are also doors leading to mini-games that feature all the other letters from I-Z, including matching games and puzzles. There are 8 main games and forty mini-games in total – so lots to keep children occupied. This is an app they will keep coming back to and they can choose to start a new game or continue where they left off.
As the story starts Alph and Betty are asleep, the alarm goes off and Betty gets up in search of something to eat. As she is about to eat breakfast the room starts to shake and a pipe bursts. As she sets out to fix the pipe and find out what has happened, she begins an adventure that involves giant carrots, magic potions, time travel, transporter doors and more. Alph eventually wakes up and travels through the rooms too to help her.
As they go from room to room the player can score points by helping them eat food that begins with the featured letter and by playing mini-games. Each page has a clock, tapping on it brings you to a mini-game where you have to find as many objects beginning with the featured letter as you can in one minute. As they explore some items they come close to will be highlighted, these are interactive – maybe an object to eat or an entrance to a mini-game. Tapping on any object beginning with the featured letter will show it’s name, with the letter highlighted, its name will also be spoken in narrated mode.
As the player moves the characters around the different scenes it triggers more dialog (both spoken and written) and the story unfolds. Betty and Alph have some wonderful turns of phrase including as many words with the featured letter as possible such as “angry alligators it’s the alarm!”, “clanging clothcats” and “Danish dandelions !” Each time the featured letter is highlighted.
The story itself is quirky and fun, and the player helps Alph and Betty to solve problems as they play the games and move through the story. The graphics are bright, colorful and engaging. The app is British, so players may at time come across unfamiliar words or objects such as wine gums (a British candy) or the soup dragon (a character from an old British TV show).
Points scored in all games are added together and presented as an addition problem at the top of the screen, at the end of the game the player can see how many points they scored out of the total available, and try to beat it next time they play. When I first tested this app I found the controls weren’t always very responsive, but since the most recent update they work much better.
This is definitely an educational app as it strongly features the alphabet, but most kids won’t realize they are learning, as they will be having so much fun with the videos, story, and games. It is useful for preschoolers learning their alphabet, but is also fun and educational for early elementary school students as they practice their reading and learn new vocabulary. The developer recommends the app for ages 3-8 years and I think that is about right (though the 3 year-olds may need help in places). A really fun and unusual app – a quirky, charming, engaging, out of this world adventure -a mix of story, educational app, platform game, mini-games and videos.
This app has been thoroughly evaluated by our staff. Please click on the 'star ratings' tab above, to see how it fared in all nine of our rating categories. See synopsis tab for more details about the storyline.
This review was originally published by TheiMums.com on April 16, 2014. The iMums – Amanda, Alison, Mary and Grace – are four mothers from different parts of the world dedicated to educating parents about the best digital stories, educational apps, fun games and technology products available for their children. Founded in August 2011, the four iMums have 11 kids among them ranging in age from 1 to 17 and bring a global perspective to their app reviews.
The original iMum Amanda being from Australia, Alison is in America, Grace is from Singapore and Mary is from the UK but is currently living in America. Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Stephen Cavalier/Dani Devereux and Gary Boller
Cav Films Ltd
30 - 45 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 4 - 8 +
Children aged from 3-8 can:
- Guide animated characters across the pages of this beautifully illustrated storybook
- Follow the imaginative storyline and uncover the secrets of this eccentric world
- Discover many surprises and over 40 puzzles and mini games
- Genuine video game functionality that draws on recommended literacy teaching methods
- 8 alphabet letters featured as platform games, the rest featured as mini games.
- Read, listen, explore, discover and solve.
Alph & Betty’s Topsy Turvy World is a new ‘motion adventure book’.
From Electric Circus, an award winning team of writers, animators,
artists and programmers, with experience ranging from:
- Movies like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Iron Man 3, Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
- Animated TV series for Disney, BBC and Cartoon Network.
- Traditional children’s comic books like The Beano.
- Award winning online and console games.