Bartleby is back! My little one loved Vol. 1: The Faraway Island and was very excited to explore this new title. In the sequel, we find our button-obsessed protagonist heading out on a quest for a button at the bottom of the sea. Bartleby's lady-friend Sally helps him on his quest, which involves traveling in a submarine to the ocean floor. With light animation and ingenious interactivity, Bartleby Vol. 2 is a book-game hybrid that children (and many adults) will find deeply entertaining.
The reader needs to find the proper combination of actions on each page to allow the story to continue. There are buttons, switches, levers and pulleys on nearly every page that challenge the reader with new and different 'games' to play to keep the story moving. Once the challenge is met, the page turn 'button' goes from red to green, allowing the reader to continue the story. Vol. 2 also has nice narration and great sound effects, right down to the sound of tapping on submarine glass. The story ends with, "To Be Continued ..." and references to a new button somewhere on the moon (and a rival named "Z"). While this is a bit unsatisfying for the ending, it is only because these book apps are so engaging it's hard to wait for the next installment.
This title is solidly made and full of fun interactivity to explore. My only suggestion would be to add highlighting in time with the narration and maybe prevent the interactive elements from starting before the narration has completed. I would suggest that young children read this with an adult the first time through especially. My little boy was so eager to 'play' with this title that he often caused the narration to be cut short in his quest to push another button. When the story is over there is still more fun to be had ... achievements (which you can see listed through the Game Center app if you have enabled it), award stickers that can even be printed for your little explorer if you have access to an AirPrint enabled printer.
This title also has a new feature in iOS 5 that uses Apple's "Airplay". I was not able to test this feature but it is nicely described by Kyle Kinkade, the President/CEO of Monster Costume, "AirPlay is a great new iOS 5 feature that allows a user to stream the story to their HDTV from a new AppleTV. Once you enable AirPlay, your device transforms into Bartleby's actual book of buttons, letting you control the story on your TV. We're very proud of this innovation, and plan to make much more use of this in all future titles." See the video tab for a demonstration of this very cool new feature.
Overall this is a phenomenal sequel that will satisfy Bartleby fans with many more pages of buttons, levers and creative challenges built into each page. It is one of those apps that challenges our notion of where a book ends and games begin, but the team over at Monster Costume has done a beautiful job navigating the space between the two. My highest recommendation!
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
20 - 40 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: Yes
Age: 4 - 10 +
Bartleby is a funny little guy who loves buttons, levers, knobs, etc. He collects his buttons in a big 'book of buttons' and has just a few more special buttons he needs to find to make his collection complete. His friend Sally (who collects switches) has a message for him about one of these important buttons ... a button on the bottom of the sea!
Sally and Bartleby travel in a helicopter that emerges from Sally's store, landing by parachute on the submarine of Captain Kinkade. they dive down to the ocean floor where Bartleby gets out and walks until he finds a cave that opens into a tunnel with stairs leading deep below the seabed. Instead of his sought-after button, Bartleby finds a note that says, "You are too late, the Button Under The Sea is mine!" signed "Z".
Now trapped in the underwater chamber, Bartleby follows the bubbles into a tunnel system and then pops up to the surface where he is able to join his friends. At the same time a rocket shoots into the sky, heading for the moon. As the rocket lands, we see Bartleby's rival saying, "This time, the Moon Button will be mine!"