App Reviews: Wreck-It Ralph Storybook Deluxe and Hero’s Duty Interactive Comic

Posted 8 years ago by Tech

If you’ve seen Wreck-It Ralph, chances are you loved Wreck-It Ralph.  The movie has enough heart, charm, and video game goodness to keep you coming back for more.  Sadly, the Blu-ray won’t be available for a few months, but until then you can revisit the film thanks to Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph Storybook Deluxe and Hero’s Duty Interactive Comic, both available for iOS.

Wreck-It Ralph Storybook Deluxe

As with previous Disney interactive storybooks, the book portion of the Wreck-It Ralph Storybook Deluxe app is essentially a retelling of the movie’s plot.  Aimed at a younger audience, the storybook features narration, animation, and artwork that is top notch.  Whenever a character actually has dialog, the actor that played the part provides the voice, making for an authentic retelling of the story.

I’m happy to report that the navigation and interactivity has improved from some of their previous efforts.  Tapping on characters will often give you an additional animation or bit of dialog, which can result in some fun Easter Eggs.  There’s also a sort of in-story mini-game, where Vannellope von Schweetz pokes her head out from the sides of the page, glitches, and then disappears.  If you’re able to catch her, she comes onto the screen and spouts some cute line from the movie, and then disappears again.  Although there are only a limited number of these animations on a page, they continue in a loop until the reader swipes across the current page or activates and taps the page turn arrows, giving little readers plenty of chances to find all the fun stuff.

A welcome addition to the latest Disney storybooks are the handful of video clips from the movie itself.  These only run for a few seconds, but they look great and add quite a bit to the overall excitement of the presentation.  I know for my daughter they’re a highlight of the experience; she’ll watch them over and over again before swiping to the next page.

Previous Disney storybooks have included a few little extras aside from the story itself.  And although coloring pages and puzzles would have been fun, the Wreck-It Ralph storybook goes for quality over quantity with only a single bonus feature – a playable version of Sugar Rush, the in-movie game that’s a major focus of the story.

Little racers get to bake their own cars by choosing a candy-constructed chassis, and then customizing it with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup rims, a KitKat Bar spoiler, sprinkles, and a two-tone frosting paint job.  Then they get to go race the car against four computer-controlled opponents on one of four tracks with three different difficulty settings.  Much like in the movie, the game is essentially Mario Kart for the iPad, which is not a bad thing at all.  The car accelerates on its own, and to steer, players simply rotate the iPad back and forth.  To use your power-up, just push the green button that appears in the lower-right corner.  The game is a blast for young and old and is worth the price of the app alone.

I only have one very minor quibble with the app, and that’s the volume level for the music and sound effects. Often times the background music is so loud that it drowns out the read-along narrator.  The spoken dialog from characters mostly comes through just fine, but the narration is a tad too low.  You can turn the narration on and off, but you can’t control the volume separately.  So you either have no narration, which isn’t great for younger readers, or music that blares over the narration (which kind of defeats the purpose of the narration).  Separate volume controls for the music, sound effects, and narration would have been nice.

Hero’s Duty Interactive Comic

If you have older Ralph fans in your house, Disney also offers the Hero’s Duty Interactive Comic.  The comic is a prequel to the in-movie video game, giving us a glimpse of how the Cy-Bugs were created and how the tough-as-nails Sergeant Calhoun came to battle them.  The story is mostly run-and-gun action with a few moments of back story  but it essentially plays out with quite a few nods to the movie Aliens (not that that’s a bad thing…).

The comic features 22 pages of really solid artwork by Roberto Di Salvo, exciting music and sound effects, and some fun animation as panels and artwork comes swooping onto the screen from all sides.  It’s not breaking new ground in the field of interactive comics, but when you consider that you’re getting a more visceral experience for half the price of a regular comic book, it’s hard not to justify the $1.99 price.

There’s only one very slight thing about the comic that – as a parent – I feel I have to at least mention.  One of the characters says the word “hell” twice.  The context is exclamatory (i.e., “And where the hell does that rifle come from?”) and I’m not really sure why it’s there.  It feels like they threw it in to be “edgy”; to appeal to slightly older readers and reassure them that this comic isn’t just for little kids.  But at the same time, they were obviously concerned enough about the association of the minor curse word that Calhoun, the main character connected to the movie, says “heck” instead (See the first panel in the image below).  It’s not that I’m offended by the word, but it definitely made me take pause as I was reading the comic aloud to my four-year-old.  Luckily, I caught it in time to “pull a Calhoun” and say “heck” instead.  But if you’re looking to blind-buy this with the assumption that, “It’s Disney! It’s fine!”, just be forewarned and use your own judgment.

We were so impressed by these Wreck-It Ralph apps that we’ve decided to run a little contest!

Leave a comment below and tell us what video game character you’d like to see cameo in the inevitable Wreck-It Ralph sequel, and we’ll randomly select two winners.

The first winner will get the Wreck-It Ralph Storybook Deluxe ($6.99 value) and the second winner will get the Hero’s Duty Interactive Comic ($1.99 value).  Either way you’re making off with some really cool Wreck-It Ralph goodness for your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch.

The contest is open to U.S. residents only.  You must supply a valid email address or Twitter handle in your profile so we can get in touch with you if you win.  The contest will run until November 16, 2012, 11:59pm.