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Neon Mania

Educational Value:
Fun Factor:
Skills:Handwriting, Pre-writing, Hand-Eye Coordination, Tracing, Fine Motor

What we like best:

Gorgeous graphics are captivating for kids, especially on a retina display.

What you should know:

Watch carefully; many tracing images seem more suitable for adults.
Full Review:

The bright colors and calming music may make Neon Mania seem like a great fit for a young child who is just starting to get a handle on things—literally. At its core, it is: this tracing game, which rewards players for preciseness rather than speed, is fantastic fine-motor practice.

Though it's listed under “Kids” in some app stores, Neon Mania isn't quite as innocent as the screenshots make it look. The gameplay is simple: drag the glowing stars across the dim tubes to “light” them up. Go fast to score points, but not too fast: “drop” your star and your score drops, too—a great way to reinforce essential classroom skills like hand-eye coordination and fine-motor function. While the game itself is great for young kids, some of the designs that players are asked to trace might be questionable for kindergartners. Play it long enough and you'll run across several overt references to alcohol, and even a few that suggest, ahem, romance. The “Party” set is the worst offender, but there are frothy mugs and seductive silhouettes hiding even in things like the “Street” and “Signs” themes.

Keep it parked on the “kids” section (which may be the healthiest section of all at a whopping 175 levels) or tack on the “Draw” function for an extra $0.99, which allows players to freehand their own pictures in glowing neon. Mature graphics aside, Neon Mania is jam-packed with endless hours of fun and fine-motor practice.

Reviewed 2012-10-11 on iPad iOS5 by Jody Amable

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App Icon
Price:Free - $0.99
Grade:Kindergarten
Topic:Writing, Arts & Crafts
Platform:Apple
Publisher:Vivid Games
Standards:Conventions of Standard English: Print upper- and lowercase letters