High Variance

App Review: My Little Pony: Twilight Sparkle: Teacher for a Day

[title "Twilight Sparkle: Teacher for a Day"]

My first introduction to My Little Pony wasn’t terribly positive. I was about eight years old and this “girl stuff” was advertised relentlessly on Saturday morning cartoons. I was far more interested in being a pawn of the corporations that marketed branded soldiers, spaceships, and robots to boys.1

Then in my early twenties, I ran across this Internet quiz that gives you names like “Daisy Sweet” and “Misty Rain” and asks you to identify each as either a My Little Pony or a porn star. I failed miserably and while I was horrified at the quiz’s difficulty, I was also a little relieved that I was not an expert on either topic.

And now, it seems that the third time is the charm. The girls have been in a serious MLP phase the last few weeks and our collection now includes 12 little Little Ponies, each with its own colors, personality, and cutie mark. Apple Jack is the hard working farmer with the southern drawl while Rainbow Dash is the adventurous one with the mischievous streak. You might have guessed we’ve also watched a couple tv episodes.

[title "What a Scam"]

On our last long distance trip we expanded our collection to include a couple iOS apps. The first was Gameloft’s My Little Pony - Friendship is Magic and it is an awful scam. You create a magical pony land by buying gems for real money–your parents’ real money to be specific. And if you don’t invest, you can’t actually do anything fun.

The second app (Twilight Sparkle: Teacher for a Day) gets pretty mixed reviews on iTunes but frankly is pretty cute and has no crazy-making in-app purchases. It’s a 40 page appified book that you can read with your kid or will read itself. It has a few built-in animations and four mini-games. Two of the games are simple tilt the iPad to negotiate a maze and two are point-out-the-difference between two picture games. R likes all of them though she sometimes accidentally hits the home button when tilting the iPad and that starts the whole thing over. The story itself filled in some history of the pony’s homeland and could have been titled MLP: Origin of Equestria. Did you know the unicorn ponies, pegasus ponies and earth ponies started out with cold hearts? And of course, there is a positive message about friendship since (as everyone knows) friendship is magic! R’s favorite part of the app is the set of pony bios that includes pictures and descriptions.

There are three distinct groups of MLP fans. First, little girls, second, parents of little girls, and third, the bronies. That third group is mostly adult men who self-identify as straight and just love the MLP stories, characters, and positive messages.2 For all these fans, I think this app will be a lot of fun. I doubt it will appeal much to a broader audience, but I’m also glad that we live in a world that’s big enough for that to be OK.

  1. Micronauts totally ruled.

  2. We saw a brony in the wild on the plane back from Los Angeles–he was sporting a full beard, a Hawaiian shirt, and was having an awesome time laughing and carrying on while feeding his laptop a steady stream of MLP dvds. I thought it was great and am kicking myself I didn’t get a picture to capture the moment.