Town Musicians of Bremen
Great art, not so great app
$0.99 From Albert Frischmann Consulting, frischmann.biz/bremer/en/home Made for iPad Needs iPad, iOS 9 or later I really wanted my children to love this, because it’s a work of art — or rather, lots of works of art. Lev Kaplan’s beautiful illustrations, more than 1,000 hours in the making, are brought to life with the help of professional voiceovers, 800 animations and more than 120 sounds. But neither my four-year-old nor my 10-year-old liked it. My son prodded the interactive bits then demanded YouTube Kids; his big sister admired the artistry, for seven minutes. “It’s pretty,” she said. “But it’s pretty boring.”
The problem isn’t the app, or the artistry, and it’s not that my kids are philistines either. It’s the delivery. Grimm’s version of the famous fairy tale, a story that dates back to the twelfth century, is presented reverently. That’s rather plodding for a generation raised on Nosy Crow and Toca Boca.
The translation is clunky too, with basic errors and a tendency to translate literally. “I am going to Bremen to become town musician,” one character declares; later, the same character describes a table with “robbers sitting at it and making themselves a good time.”
It reminded me of interactive CDROMs from the days of Macromedia Director, where previously static titles would be rendered magically interactive with the addition of a few things you could click on to make them jiggle. That approach feels even more dated than the ancient fairy tale it’s trying to illuminate.
the bottom line. The artwork is beautiful but the app has been lost in translation.
It’s a shame that the story doesn’t live up to the extraordinary artwork.