Older children with a passion for dinosaurs will love it, but younger children won’t find enough to keep their interest here
Inside The World of Dinosaurs Review
by on March 21, 2012
Inside the World of Dinosaurs is a giant-sized interactive encyclopaedia of over 60 species of dinosaurs that once roamed the earth. You get to see all the old favourites, like Tyrannosaurus Rex, Triceratops and Stegosaurus as well as lesser known Therapods, Sauropods and Cerapods of the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous time periods.
While there are different ways to access the dinosaurs (by Timeline, Period or searchable index), the main meat of the app is a series of dark, book-like pages, which use the same landscape layout for every single dinosaur. Sadly, that means things quickly start to become repetitive.
There are over 200 pages containing 3D models, enabling you to see the dinosaurs move, run or fight. Essentially, each dinosaur gets two pages dedicated to it – one giving an overview and an animation showing you how it walks, and another which contains more information alongside a 360-degree spinnable image, and a second image of the dinosaur either running or fighting.
The text on each page is narrated by Stephen Fry, who is more than up to the task of enunciating even the most absurdly long Latin or Greek-inspired dinosaur name. As expected, Fry does a great job at making the unpronounceable sound positively palatable.
When we first read that in this app we’d be able to see the dinosaurs fighting each other, we got really excited. We imagined some sort of Ultimate Fighting Contest, where you could pit different beasts against each other to see who won, as the 3D dinosaurs slugged it out. However, when the realisation quickly dawned that the ‘fight’ was essentially a 3D model of two static dinosaurs caught in the middle of the action that you can spin 360 degrees, disappointment ensued. It feels like a bit of a cop-out – a video showing a few seconds of some dinosaur melee (like the BBC’s acclaimed Walking with Dinosaurs series did so well), would have been much better, and kept the viewers interested in the app for longer. The static pictures just don’t really add anything of value.
While Paleontology is a serious field of study, this app is clearly aimed at children. Kids love dinosaurs, and as a parent, you get the bonus of feeling like you’re being super-educational when your dino-obsessed child spends hours wrapped up in an app like this, when, in fact, its just an excuse to watch big monsters fighting each other. To be fair, M5859 Studios seem to have made an extra effort to get the science right – it claims over 30 specialists in their fields collaborated for 12 months on the app. There’s certainly an impressive amount of historical information about paleontology here, with articles and biographies of famous fossil hunters, from the start of the initial dinosaur discovery boom in the 19th century onwards. Even so, while the text is packed with interesting facts, it’s not stuffy. In fact, it’s positively accessible and contemporary, even throwing in a reference to Lady Gaga at one point (something to do with the courtship rituals of one particular Sauropod).
Of course, we can’t finish this review without mentioning the elephant (or in this case, the Brachiosaurus) in the room – its price. £9.99 is small fortune to pay for an app these days. Clearly the publishers are basing their pricing model on the sort of fee people would be prepared to hand over for a printed version of the book, with lovely colour photos on glossy paper. Compared to a £20 book, the iPad app is indeed quite good value, and of course, on the iPad you get so much more – 3D models and the luxury of Stephen Fry’s narration are the obvious benefits, but it costs so much more than other apps on the App Store that it still feels expensive.
As well as the price, the size of the app is also an issue. In contrast to the instant gratification of many 69p apps, large, lumbering apps like this one take over an hour to download on a typical broadband connection, not to mention the large amount of space they take up on your iPad, so they’ve got to be exceptional if they’re going to stay on your device for long, without becoming extinct.
Inside the World of Dinosaurs is a worthy effort that succeeds in its aims of increasing your knowledge about dinosaurs, and the experience is elevated by the addition of 3D models and Stephen Fry’s narration. However, similar to a T-Rex that’s just been outrun by its dinner, it’s left us feeling somewhat hungry for more.
Download this app: Inside the World of Dinosaurs for iPad
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Review courtest of Tap!