Apps To Keep Tiny Travellers Amused


Summer is soon upon us, and airports and highways will soon be filled with tech-savvy kids impatiently waiting to get to wherever “there” may be.

To keep kids occupied on the road, on trains or planes (or sea), here are some more iPad/iOS apps that can make hours of time disappear.

BraveSmartfree for iOS

Tricky as anything, I have seen hours of my life disappearing to this highly addictive puzzle game.  Great for school age kids and older, the game play involves turning resources into houses, houses into buildings, then buildings into bigger buildings like castles, much like the premise of TripleTown but simpler to play.  Unfortunately, it’s not a two-player game, so sharing of devices may get tricky, as will convincing kids that spending real currency on “gold” in the game is like the equivalent of spending it on thin air, because that’s what it will be in about twenty seconds.

GnomeTown – free for iOS

A tame version of a freemium social city building game, I’m not sure whether GnomeTown is preparing children for manual labour, but there are an awful lot of weeds and garden debris that turn up randomly.  There’s always something to do in this game, whether it be weeding, or harvesting plants, or building something or collecting something else.  I personally don’t find this game as fun or organized or as aesthetically pleasing as something like Fantasy Town (which actually requires a lot of waiting for energy to rebuild), but GnomeTown can totally keep someone small occupied for hours at a time.

A special note to parents: the sound design is not the greatest, so encourage the use of headphones or playing the game on mute.  Also, you need a wi-fi or data connection to play.

Garfield’s Dinerfree for iOS

My phase with Garfield’s Diner HD may have worn off, but this is an addictive game that actually does require and is worth spending real money.  Garfield’s Diner uses the Garfield characters to serve fast food and drinks, and of course, lasagna, to various patrons entering the diner.  Speed is key as it can get quite stressful seeing angry customers storming out.  If anything, splurge for the $3.99 worth of Garfield Points that buys Robo Kitty.

The developers have made some great updates to the game over the past few weeks, so there’s hope for fixing some of the annoying little quirks of this game, like not being able to properly grip and drag certain characters (with your finger or stylus) to where you need them to be, or that the levelling up between some levels gets a bit repetitive for a small payoff.  However, the pricing of certain items was recently fixed with a very large update, and it made a world of difference to the game play, so I’m still holding out for the next big update to see what’s new.

I’ve heard of Garfield’s Diner HD being equated to Diner Dash, but I’d have to say that this is a lot more fun than Diner Dash.  Unfortunately, once one figures out chaining sequences in Diner Dash, the sequels just aren’t as challenging anymore.  Try Garfield’s Diner instead!  You may even get a little nostalgic if you used to watch the cartoon.

StoneFlood free for iOS, $0.99 to buy

It’s surprisingly easy to start playing StoneFlood, get to level 50, then look up at the clock and see that hours have passed.  The goal of StoneFlood is to get the whole board to be the same colour within the allotted number of turns, which is much trickier than my simplistic explanation here.  The graphics aren’t anything special, but it’s great for strategically-minded sorts who have lots of idle time to pass.

If there’s an Internet connection available while travelling, you can also check out oodles of my previous posts on apps like the one on Super-Cute Problem-Solving Games or iPad Apps for … Sitting Still.