App Name: Sago Mini Friends
Developer: Sago Sago
Platform and Price: iOS Universal £2.29, Android (Various devices) FREE, and Amazon Kindle Fire £1.99
App Overview: “Everyone loves a play date” say Sago Sago in this app for toddlers and pre-schoolers. This app recreates the feeling of going on a play date in a very simple form. Your child chooses one of 5 different characters, and can then walk them along a street past 4 different houses. When they find a house they like they can ring the doorbell and then they are taken inside the house to play a randomly selected mini game (there’s a total of 10 on offer) with the occupant of the house. All the mini games involve simple actions – tap or swipe – and represent the kinds of activities your child might undertake on a real play date. This includes playing with trains, blowing up balloons, and even some more practical activities like washing up, or even tucking the friends up in bed. When the game is finished the friends wave goodbye to each other and your child’s chosen character returns to the street to choose another house.
What I Like About It: This is a really well designed app, and perfect for toddlers and pre-schoolers. The controls are intuitive, the characters are charming, and kids love it. But at the same time there are educational elements – obviously there’s a lost of cause and effect involved, but also some simple colour matching in the train game for example.
What Could Be Better: Sago Sago have a good track record of producing quality games for young children, and this one is no exception. I genuinely can’t think of any way it could be better.
What Parents Need To Know: As I’d expect with an app aimed at the under 5s, there are no in-app purchases or advertising. The home screen contains a small promotional image for another Sago Mini app, but this can be switched off in the app settings if you don’t want it displayed. Also linked from the home screen is a “For Parents” section, containing a letter from the CEO of Sago Sago talking about the app and giving ideas of things to talk about whilst playing. There are links to the Sago Sago Facebook and Twitter pages in this section, but access to the section is protected by a screen which asks you to follow a simple written direction (to swipe with a specified number of fingers in a specified direction on the screen). This should suffice to prevent access by kids of an appropriate age for the app, but watch out for big brothers or sisters “helping”! Like the promotional image, the “for parents” section can also be switched off in the Settings app of your device (this may vary on Android or Kindle Fire).
Top Tip: Apparently there are two of the mini games (the balloons and the fancy dress) which kids like more than the others, so Sago Sago have very sensibly made it so you can force either of these games should you want. Holding two fingers on the screen as you enter a house will give you the balloon activity, while holding three fingers down will give you the dressing up.
My Verdict: It’s another winner from Sago Sago. Android users particularly should snap this one up as it is currently free!
Disclosure: I received a free copy of Sago Mini Friends for review purposes. All information and prices are correct at time of publication, but please check before buying as things can and do change regularly on the App Store. This review is based on the iOS version of this app – functionality on other platforms may vary. The Amazon and iTunes app store download links within this post contain my affiliate code – if you make a purchase after clicking I will receive a small commission payment at no extra cost to you.