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Wally, known as Waldo in America apparently, is, if you haven't come across him, the little fellow at the top of this review who wears a red and white stripey t-shirt. He featured in a lot of books, and the whole point of the books was to spot him amongst a whole lot of other characters jammed onto every page. The whole interest of the books was seeing the detail on every page which would be full of humour and lots of line drawn cartoon people looking a little like Wally, and finding him and his companions was always quite challenging, fun and at times quite infuriating.
So how does this transfer to i-phone?
Let me start by saying that this is the first i-phone app that I have played - it costs 59p and is also available for i-phone. It's immediately recognisable as a Where's Wally book-a-like - indeed in this version (there's also another title available "the fantastic journey"), the pictures are almost identical to the book version, which we have had for a while, being one of those 10p random school fair purchases. The i-phone screen being, clearly, fairly small, you can only see about a tenth of the whole picture on screen at any time, you can scroll across the picture using your finger on the touch screen, a small icon at the top left shows you where you are on the virtual "page". This works well, particularly as you can easily zoom in to see fine detail, in a pinch gesture no doubt familiar to more i-phone savvy users than me.
Game play involves having to find Wally first on each page, these are played as levels and have to be unlocked. Once you have found Wally , through a menu on the right of the screen, you are given several small pictures showing a precise part of the picture to find, this might mean finding a cavalier with a red and yellow top, or an astronaut nearly identical to the other 50 astronauts in the Space Scene. Once you have found them all you can unlock another level and further challenges involving other characters familiar from the Wally books, there are various time challenges and cryptic clues. All this is well and good, but there a few things that make playing this in many ways less satisfactory than the book.
Firstly, though you can zoom into the main picture, you can't make the picture part you are looking for any bigger. This is annoying, particularly as there is no way of progressing in the game other than finding everything, and often you can't see the person in enough detail. In theory you can use one of woof's bones and get a clue as to where the thing you are looking for is to even things out a little (there's a little icon to press, and you have 5 bones), in practice this part of the game doesn't seem to work, we've found that you are pointed right when you can scroll right no more and all in all it doesn't help you much. This means that I lose patience quite quickly - my daughter is much more patient than me - and long for an actual book where if I got bored of looking for someone I could flick between pages. That doesn't seem to be possible here, if you stop mid level all progress is lost, and though you can go back to levels you have already completed to do challenges you have not done (eg finding hidden bones or the letters to the word "hollywood"), progress is frustratingly slow at times.
That said, the rendering of the actual pictures is good and really representative of the original drawings, with parts having been brought to life slightly, music notes moving or a were wolf moving his head. As the title would suggest all the pictures are of film sets in the different genres of film and of a pre-digital age. Charming as the pictures are, something is, I feel, lost in the transfer to the small screen as it were, this may well work better on i-pad, but on the i-phone you feel like you are being stopped from seeing the whole page.
That said, this is, ultimately, only a 59p app, and it certainly whiles away some time and is simple and intuitive to play, the idea being grasped by even a small child. The music that accompanies the game (soon switched off in my case) is a little grating, but the interest that is to be had of looking for a guy in a stripey t-shirt is, at first at least, as good as it ever was. There are enough levels to keep you busy for a while, with 3 challenges on each page, though I don't think you would want to play this game for hours on end, I find my interest soon wanes, in a way it didn't with the books which I will happily look at with my kids for ages. Though, at this price, it seems churlish to criticise too much I do, however, still prefer our paper copy of Wally in Hollywood, perhaps as it's bigger, more tactile and just less frustrating. That said, for something a little different or sheer nostalgia I would still recommend this app, just be aware that it is a little bug ridden, somewhat glitchy at times and that it's certainly, in my mind no threat to the actual paper book which it imitates. It's fun, for 59p, it's just not quite the fun that the original was.