March Of The Dinosaurs

March Of The Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs roar back to life in this amazingly insightful interactive storybook

Now don’t get us wrong, we’re very grateful to Apple for inventing the iPad in the first place, and blissfully happy to own and work with one on a daily basis, but why couldn’t it have been around when we were children?

If it had been, imagine how much more we would have embraced learning and, as a result, to what extent we might have bettered ourselves? A lot, we think, because interactive books, such as this prehistoric epic from Touch Press (developed by the same people who brought us apps such as The Elements and Solar System) make learning both fun and exciting, as well as helping the reader to engage with the subject matter in a way in which book pages and crude Ray Harryhausen animation could never achieve.

March Of The Dinosaurs whisks you back 70 million years in time, and places you in a harsh environment of blisteringly hot summers and freezing cold winters, where all-day sunlight is replaced by an all-encompassing darkness, and where volcanic eruptions duel with chilling blizzards. It certainly goes some way to explaining the  possible reasons as to why the dinosaurs became extinct in the first place. But rather than bombarding you with facts in the hope that something sticks, this app attempts to humanise the experience – or ‘dinoise’ it, if such a term exists – by charting the experiences of two very different types of dinosaur as they fight for survival against the elements and their natural predators.

Scar is a young Edmontosaurus, a herbivorous dinosaur caught out by the sudden downturn in temperature and embarking on his first thousand-mile migration to escape from the freezing conditions, and Patch is a Troodon, a carnivorous creature of adolescent age who is just starting to find himself in the harsh, dino-eat-dino world in which he battles to survive. You follow the lives of both creatures through 12 chapters and 65 pages consisting of narrative, engaging images and animations that stomp and roar out of the screen at you.

Upon loading the app for the first time, you can opt to ‘begin the story’, jump to any chapter you like, or delve into the ‘Meet the Dinosaurs’ option in order to go about getting clued up on the characteristics and behaviour of the ten different species of dinosaur that prominently feature in the app. A depth of content is something that a lot of interactive books can be accused of lacking, focusing on style over substance and serving more as a technology showcase than a product for people to be impressed enough by to keep coming back to, but March Of The Dinosaurs consistently delivers on the factual stuff while maintaining your interest with a gripping story.

You can read the book at your own pace, or have it narrated to you, and the vivid illustrations are complimented perfectly with neat animated sequences that have been specially produced by the talented team behind the National Geographic feature-length special, Escape With Dinosaurs and the BBC’s smash hit edutainment series, Walking With Dinosaurs. We have sampled plenty of other dinosaur-related apps recently, including the highly polished Dinosaur Zoo (Andrew Kerr, £2.49/$3.99), but while that particular app is high in interactivity and light on factual information, March Of The Dinosaurs pulls a wide range of information from a variety of different sources, including Wolfram Alpha, and ties it all together with the overlayed story.

It’s an effective approach, and the app never attempts to wrestle control away from you. You can enjoy this adventure on your own terms, and approach it from any angle you want; entertainment or enlightenment, the outcome is always the same, and you will always come away feeling both uplifted and educated every time you dip in.

Rated 5 out of 5

A polished interactive book that’s fun, insightful and full of intrigue.