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Feature Review

Hoopa City 2
Price: $3.99
Runs on: iPad, iPhone
File size: 145 MB
Ages: 3-7
For grades: P, K, 1, 2
Teaches: creativity, spatial relations, towns, villages, urban planning, cities
Like the first Hoopa City (2014), this second edition is like "Sim City" for preschoolers. Only this time you can design in 3D, and go inside of the buildings. This is an ambitious app, with a lot of depth and creative possibilities. It is also an excellent spatial problem solving activity, with a strong dose of pretend play.

You start with an empty, flat 25 x 25 grid, and a menu offering eight types of elements that can mixed and matched to make as many as 60 elements. There are gardens, houses, wind turbines, places to eat, schools and even a jail. You never know what you'll make, especially when you drag two icons to the same square. This gives the app an element of surprise, but it also makes it confusing. Because there is no way to fail, children learn that they can experiment. There are no scores or time limits. If you create a balanced community, with a mix of services, roads and energy, your population increases.

This app is thick with hidden surprises and things to do. There's a day and night mode, and you can go inside many of the structures to help run a restaurant, look through a telescope, or put your characters inside a jail cell. Up to 20 cities can be saved.

The app namesake is Hoopa the Hippo, one of the central characters in the Dr. Panda gang.

Weaknesses include some annoying music that can be silenced in the parent's menu, and there's no easy way to reset your village or control the continually moving characters that appear at random. The bottom line? This is another excellent Dr. Panda app that is well worth the download. Don't underestimate the creative possibilities this app presents. Up to 20 cities can be saved.

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CTR Dec 16 Feature Review Entered 11/12/2016 by Warren Buckleitner, Modified 12/13/2016 by Rebecca Lingelbach