There are countless iPad apps geared toward entertaining children, but few apps are both as engaging and soothing as Nighty Night! HD. This enchanting bedtime story, which was designed by Heidi Wittlinger, an Oscar-nominated animator, and Shape Minds Studios, has one simple goal: turn out the lights so each farm animal can go to sleep.
Nighty Night’s deft execution makes it easy for even the smallest children to turn off the lights, yet the app’s subtle details ensure that older kids (and parents) don’t tire of the story quickly. The app’s pacing is perfect. If a user waits long enough an arrow will appear to show him where to touch the screen. Once inside the animal’s stall, the user can turn off the light immediately, try touching the animal — the fish were my favorite — or wait, and the light switch will gently flash to get his attention.
The storyline is comfortingly familiar, yet there are also a few surprises that will delight children. Each animal’s stall is well-designed. The graphics make use of a variety of different textures that are beautiful without being fussy. The story never panders to the children. Instead it leaves plenty of room for the children to bring their own ideas to the story. When all of the animals have been put to bed, the narrator (voiced by Scottish character actor Alistair Findlay) says, “They’re all sleeping now. Well, Wait a second, someone is still awake. Do you know who that is? Yes, it’s you. Off to bed you go! Nighty Night. And don’t forget to turn off the light.”
Nighty Night includes an autoplay feature, although using it does give away all the tricks that each animal perform. Users also have the option to skip the intro, which might be welcome once a user commits it to memory. Each time you read the book the animals are put to bed in a different order, which adds another level of expectation while reading with a wee one.
Nighty Night HD is designed for children 1 – 4 years of age, and is available in the App Store for $1.99
What I liked: Everything. Nighty Night HD is simple, subtle, and clever. It is an app that very young children will enjoy and demand to use again and again. Time seems to slow down while you are using Nighty Night. Crickets chirp in the distance and chimes play a simple melody that should help any child transition from a busy day to the peaceful state needed for sleep.
What I didn’t like: Almost nothing. Using autoplay before exploring the app on one’s own will give away all of the surprise movements the animals make, but this is a very small point.
To buy or not to buy: If you have young children, or are charged with putting one to bed on occasion, Nighty Night HD makes an excellent addition to any bedtime ritual.
- App Name: Nighty Night! HD
- Version Reviewed:1.0
- Developer: Shape Minds and Moving Images GmbH
- Price: $1.99