Lite-Brite Review

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.

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