EA, what happened? You were on such a winning streak with Mirror’s Edge, Scrabble for iPad, and a dozen other top-notch iPhone and iPad games. In our opinion, you haven’t released a dud since Mass Effect Galaxy and American Idol. Now we’re forced to be wary once again of your brand-name apps, because Lite-Brite is just awful.
Based on the popular children’s toy (we had one, too), Lite-Brite is a recreation of that legendary light-up coloring board. How times have changed: What was once a proto-computer for tots is now nostalgic kitsch for Boomers and Gen-Xers. Today’s kids are not likely to be impressed by Lite-Brite on the iPhone– the iPhone itself is already the most remarkable technology of the day, with far greater entertainment potential than Lite-Brite.
Thank you for flying Technicolor Airlines
And this app isn’t a snazzy update like EA’s Monopoly or Battleship apps. Lite-Brite does offer a few different modes besides classic Free Draw, like a timed template mode and an animation studio, but each offers their own unique problems.
In the template mode, you’ll find a happy picture of a clown or butterfly to fill in, color-by-numbers-style. But once you’re done, there’s no way to advance to the next image without exiting to the main menu. It’s like a coloring book where you have to close the entire book to turn the page. If this is an app made for kids, EA needs to make the interface kid-friendly.
Somehow the designers of this app weren’t feeling creative.
Also, timed template mode is a mess. There’s nothing fun about a ticking timer that forces you to pick the right colors and put them in the right holes. You’ll earn a medal and have the opportunity to unlock more colors, but more templates would probably be a better prize. Even picking colors is slow and irritating when you’re racing against the clock.
The one saving grace in Lite-Brite might be the animation studio, which lets you link together pictures in a sort of super-slideshow. Adding a new frame will keep your old template, so you can easily make adjustments. You can save your animation, but the app calls it ‘saving an image’, so it’s not at all clear that you’re actually saving your animation. It’s another example of Lite-Brite’s major interface problems, which are certain to confuse parents and kids.
Lite-Brite feels like a sad attempt to cash in on nostalgia. Previous EA and Hasbro efforts have been excellent, but Lite-Brite is poorly designed from top to bottom. Even for a dollar, we can’t recommend buying it for you or your young ones. Download some free art apps like BriteLite instead.