Toca Train

Toca Train screenshot

Toca Boca is one of the developers we consider to be app royalty. We already own nearly every one of their apps, and so we couldn’t wait to download their latest, Toca Train, when it came out yesterday.

Toca Boca are masters of making toys on the iPad which allow children to use their imaginations, be creative and explore everything in a virtual world, be it a shop, the hairdressers, or restaurant kitchens. This time, they have put together a virtual train set located in a very cute, cartoon-like world. The train is very easy to operate with three speeds, the all-important whistle and carriages for both passengers and freight, to be picked up at stations around the route. You can view the train from inside the cab or from outside as you travel, and change the angle of view too.

Both Mr Tall and Little Miss Chatterbox took to this app instantly. Toca Train is actually deceptively simple, and if trying it out without a child it might be tempting to dismiss it as too simple. But the strength of the app is in giving children the opportunity to experiment and decide what happens next, without any goals set in advance by the developer. Mr Tall, for example, was very keen on having the train run at low speed and break down frequently in a field (yes, we live in the UK…) He then decided he could use a box of tools picked up as cargo to fix the train. When we picked up food as cargo, he found a nice grassy spot to stop for a picnic. Playing with your child, it is easy to ask questions and test out different situations – What happens if we fill up the train with passengers, and someone else wants to get on? What happens if we go past a station and don’t stop? You can both work out together where you are on the map by talking about the shape of the track. There is also typical Toca Boca humour in the attention to detail – I loved the cuppa in the cab which the driver could sip as he worked.

In summary, this is an excellent app, definitely recommended. Only one small thing could make it better – please, Toca Boca, can we have lights to put on when we go in the tunnel?

Toca Train, developed by Toca Boca, compatible with iPhone 3GS/4/4S, iPod touch (3rd-4th generation) and iPad.
Available from priced at £1.49/$1.99 at time of writing.