Many parents remember last summer as one that belonged to Toy Story 3. Well, this summer is definitely in the grips of Cars 2 at our house, so this app was an instant hit with my little boy. Told with narration that mimics an announcer at the racetrack, Cars 2 World Grand Prix Read and Race is a storybook with an extra children won't soon forget - a racing game bundled into the app.
The storybook covers the plot twists involving the races in Tokyo, Italy and England (plus the trip back to Radiator Springs) and less about the spy mystery (which is the emphasis of the other Cars 2 book app, reviewed earlier this summer). After this trip through the movie's major plot points, children (and adults) will be eager to try the racing. Players get to customize their cars first and then can compete with the other computerized players by holding the iPad like a steering wheel.
The game contains two different tracks & three difficulty settings. The only complaint my little boy had was that he wanted to be Lightning McQueen in the racing game (and the car that looks like Lightning doesn't have the necessary stickers). So Disney, if you want to add anything to this title, add stickers to the customizing of the race cars, allowing children to make the red car look just like Lightning. I'd also recommend using the smaller screen version on the iPhone/iPod for the racing game with very young children, since the weight of the iPad (especially iPad 1) can make this game a little more challenging for them.
The interactivity and animation are minimal in the storybook itself, including lots of 'racing' sound effects, flashing lights and a few bits of dialogue. During the book the reader is also asked on several pages to customize cars for the race, which does interrupt the flow of the story a bit. [Note: This is one of the few Disney storybook apps not to include recordable narration - which makes sense given how long this title would take to record.] Overall, this app is a great value. It combines a movie-themed storybook with a racing game that has intuitive controls, letting children steer with the iPad (or iPhone). For fans of the Cars franchise, this book app will not disappoint.
[Update: 8/16/11 New language options: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish or Swedish. Plus now has narration that highlights as read, word-by-word.]
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Disney Digital/Small Planet Digital
Disney Publishing Worldwide Applications
10 - 30 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: Yes
Age: 3 - 10
English • French • Spanish •German •Italian •
The story of Cars 2 is retold in four chapters that follow the geographical settings showcased in the movie: Tokyo, Porto Corsa, Italy, London, England & Radiator Springs. It all begins in Japan with the fastest cars in the world. The racers also include Lightning McQueen and his rival Francesco Bernoulli. A new alternative fuel is behind the sponsorship of the race, invented by Miles Axlerod, a former oil tycoon.
During the first race, Lightning McQueen loses to his rival. There are other cars that have suspicious engine trouble that is being blamed on the new fuel. One the 2nd leg of the race, the crew heads for Europe. Lightning is sad because Mater isn't there. During this race there is more trouble blamed on the alternative fuel. The two rivals make it to the end of the course unharmed with a triumphant Lightning tying things up for race #3.
In London, the controversy has heated up over whether or not the alternative fuel is causing the engine blow-outs. Lightning decides to race with the new fuel anyway, but then all of a sudden Mater shows back up, taking Lightning away from the race course. They proceed to have a high speed chase through the streets of London. Then Mater releases a secret spy parachute that lands the two cars right in front of the Queen. Mater solves the mystery about who is behind the engine blow-outs (saving the day by rooting out the evil plot).
The whole crew heads back to Radiator Springs for a special finale to the Grand Prix. Lightning wins easily with his home-court advantage!