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For a Magical Media Experience, Just “Press Here”

Book and App Review
Last March, Chronicle Books published an amazing book titled Press Here by Hervé Tullet. The book seemed simple on its surface, primary-colored dots on a plain white background; but it is thought-provoking in a way that all great art hopes to be. Press Here challenges the reader’s assumptions about how books “work” and what they can do as it plays with current popular obsessions with interactivity. Press Here blurs the line between books and apps. 

Tullet's original book.
The book Press Here invites readers to do just that: to “press” a dot on a particular page. When the reader turns the page, the “results” of that action are seen. If the book requests that you turn the book on its side, on the next page, all the dots have “fallen” to that edge. The book is filled with witty surprises. It’s the kind of book kids love to share with their parents in a “Look what this can do” spirit. In many ways, this book is revolutionary. It’s a book that dreams it is an app. 

Chronicle Books has just released the app version of Press Here and it is revolutionary, too; but then, an app of such an original book would have to be. The app is seemingly simple yet deceptively clever as it offers users the choice of fifteen different games including a recognizable Memorygame where you “flip over” two dots at a time until you find a match. Inside Goaloffers a simple ice hockey rink/air hockey table. Users knock a little yellow puck into the red or blue goal. Did I mention that in both cases, the app doesn’t offer a set of instructions on how to play these games? For certain games, the app offers a visual prompt as to how the dots behave in a certain mode. But generally, dots simply appear on the screen as the game encourages the user to experiment until the parameters become apparent. With play, the depth and breadth of the game reveals itself to the user. 

The great thing here is that the games are easy to manipulate and filled with functionality, so it isn’t a frustrating experience to figure out a game. It’s actually a fun and satisfying journey. As I mentioned, a game like Memory or Inside Goal reveals itself quickly. But other games like Rain or Tap Tap take a bit more experimentation to enjoy the full experience. The game encourages users to try different approaches and think about actions and outcomes. And each time users choose certain games like Free Play they’ll get a slightly different set of outcomes. 
Some of the games are pure spectacle like Fireworks where users press the blue, yellow, or red dot to send “fireworks” bursting into the “sky.” Another game, Get Inside, presents a blue dot next to a blue ring. Every time the uses touches the screen, more dots of red, yellow, and blue appear. Eventually, the user will figure out the goal is to get the solid colored dots inside the ring, as only the solid colored dots move when you attempt to drag them. But only a blue dot will go inside the blue ring. As the user keeps playing, they realize that if they tap the ring, its color will change, allowing users to get the red and yellow dots inside the ring, too. It takes some time to get to this point, but it’s a fun, even exciting journey. Simply put, it’s impossible to get to the bottom of this app. And that’s the very good news. 

It’s one of the most extraordinary apps I’ve encountered—ever. It’s rated for ages two and up and that makes sense. A two-year-old could easily manipulate and enjoy the games Press Here has to offer. But I’m reluctant to call Press Here a kid’s app because YOU will enjoy this at least as much as your child; it’s THAT joyous and thought provoking. The marketplace rarely offers this much value, stimulation, and pure delight for $1.99. I recommend this app without reservation. It’s a winner. Press Here is simple yet profound, like most truly great ideas. 

Review Summary
App Name: Press Here 
Category: Education
Age Level: 4+
Released: April 11, 2012
Requirements: Compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 3.2 or later.
Price: $1.99 
Bottom Line: Buy it. You’ll thank me.
For more reviews of children's media, visit Media Darlings

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