Pok Pok Playroom, the new software toy for young kids (ages two to six) from an eponymous studio spun out of game studio Snowman, has arrived. I’ve had a chance to play with it, as has John Voorhees of MacStories, who wrote a thoughtful review:
The types of toys that would capture my kids’ imaginations when they were younger were things like Thomas the Tank Engine wooden train sets, Lego, art supplies, stuffed animals, and toy cars and trucks. They were the sort of simple toys that encouraged interaction, imagination, and creativity as they built worlds for their animals to live in.
Will Wright used to call all the SimCity games “software toys,” and while they became increasingly game-like, I always appreciated the fact that there was something soothing about playing them. I got that same vibe from Snowman’s own Alto’s Odyssey, which eventually got a Zen Mode that didn’t score you and went on forever. There’s no Game Over screen when you play with plastic figures in a sandbox or build freestyle with a box full of Lego.
That’s the spirit of Pok Pok Playroom, which starts with six modules for young kids to explore. There’s a busy-board inspired collection of fun switches to flip and buttons to press, a drawing area, a stackable set of blocks in the shapes of heads, middles, feet, and assorted wacky items you can use to make people, and my favorite, an illustrated, animated world through which you can move people, animals, and objects and watch them interact in various delightful ways. (It’s the most I’ve ever smiled while taking out the trash.)
Pok Pok Playroom is a subscription-based toy—no ads, no creepy stuff—with a 14-day free trial, after which it’s $3.99 per month or $29.99 per year. Pok Pok says it will keep adding new toys to the app, so there will always be more things for kids to explore. My kids—who aged out of this category a decade ago, alas—would’ve loved it.