Since its launch on the iTunes Store last week, Boomzap’s newest app Zaptales: Interactive Fairy Tales has been enjoyed by children and parents alike, all around the world. This delightful storybook was created by a team of developers that loves both casual games and children’s books.
Here to tell us more about Zaptales are Chris Natsuume (Boomzap’s creative director and a father of two), artists Tim Terrenal and Eli Terrenal (a husband-and-wife team), artist Sands Gonzaga, and Boomzap’s youngest designer Chel Patiño.
Q: What is Zaptales and where did the idea come from?
Chris: It started when I was looking for a good iPad fairy tale book application for my daughter. I browsed around and found a few good storybooks, but honestly, there’s a lot of mediocre stuff out there as well. I kept thinking, that with all the talented artists and designers we have in our studio, we could do something much more compelling. One night I started talking to my business partner Allan Simonsen about it, and we decided to see what we could make.
Q: What makes Zaptales different from other interactive storybooks?
Tim: One of the things I primarily noticed with a lot of the interactive storybooks out there, is the lack of things to do with the app after you have read it. Many of them offer up a nice narrative with cool art that serves as a nice night-time storybook before going to bed, but none of them offer anything more than that. Adding a lot of extra activities gave the book more life, making it fun to play at any time of the day – it’s not just for bedtime stories.
Eli: I think what makes Zaptales different is that we have tons of interactive elements that could help encourage more reading time. And since we have a library of minigames from our Hidden Object Adventure games we use those minigames to add more interaction between the reader and the story.
Sands: When we started the project, it was just like any other interactive book, with the typical “tap this, X happens”. But as we progressed, it seems our hidden object game background began to show through. We added simple puzzles that you can find in our popular games, but gave them a new twist for this storybook. I feel it adds much to the experience of this book – something for kids to do long after they’ve finished reading (and re-reading) the book.
Q: What sort of activities can we find in Zaptales? What’s your personal favorite feature?
Chel: Zaptales has a huge variety of mini-games and puzzles such as sticker books, coloring books, jigsaws, find-the-difference games, and many more. You’ll find stuff that are not in other storybooks, like Match 3 or Fireworks tap-tap games that are normally sold as standalone apps, but here you’ll find them bundled as part of Zaptales. The ones I love most are the mazes and the matching subgames – when you win, they create special rewards for the players!
Tim: My favorites are definitely the dress-up games and the sticker books. I remember having a lot of those when I was a kid, and enjoyed them as I was growing up.
Eli: I like the dress-up games. Reminds me of those old paperdolls when I was growing up.
Chris: My kids love the coloring books. There is just a very good “feel” to finger-drawing on a tablet, and I think we offer a lot of fun tools for them to play with in that environment.
Sands: As I was testing the app, I found myself enjoying the sticker book. I let my 3-year old nephew play with my iPad and he found his way to the sticker book section too. I have no idea how he navigated there.
Q: Since Boomzap is a Hidden Object game developer, should we expect any hidden objects or surprises to find in Zaptales?
Chel: Yes, definitely! ZapTales has collectibles that are cleverly hidden on every page. And as you tap around the pages, you’ll discover secret objects and embedded puzzles. For example, if you create certain combinations of clothes, a special reward will pop up. I really love that!
Tim: There are easter eggs hidden within the stories themselves, that the readers can encounter on various playthroughs. I sometimes stay on a page a little bit longer just to see if I managed to click or drag every possible interactive item on the page – just to make sure I didn’t miss anything!
Q: Are any of you parents? If so, did your kids play a part in the development process, and what were their reactions to Zaptales?
Chris: Yes, actually. Both of the founders of Boomzap are parents, as are most of the development team that worked on the project. I have a daughter (8) and a son (6), and they both played with it a lot as we developed. Allan Simonsen’s daughter (5) was one of our first playtesters. Much of the interactivity comes from those three kids demanding more and more as we progressed. Honestly, when we started the project, it was going to be a much simpler project – but as we got deeper into the process, our kids quickly showed us that they really wanted to do more with the book.
Tim: Yes, Eli and I are married and we have a little baby girl who likes to tap everything on the pages. She often imitates the different animal sounds found in the book.
Q: Tell us about the art style of Zaptales.
Tim: The art style for Zaptales is something inspired from our love for children’s books and animation. We wanted to make the visuals very vibrant and colorful, and something that kids will be naturally attracted to.
Q: Why did you decide to adapt well-known fairy tales, instead of write new stories?
Chris: The honest truth is that we wanted to start the project with stories that we knew parents were already looking for, so we would have a definite audience for the project. None of us are famous published authors, so we knew that it would be difficult to draw an audience with our own stories. Now that we have the project out, and it has some traction, we may expand to lesser known stories – or even stories we compose ourselves, but that will largely depend on the feedback we get and what the audience really wants.
Q: How has Zaptales been performing in the iTunes Store so far?
Chris: It’s been doing very well, and we’ve been pleasantly surprised by how receptive our audience has been. The reviews are largely very positive, and we quickly rose to one of the top 10 books on the iTunes store. We’re hoping that this means there is a strong audience for people who want quality children’s books on tablets, and that we have started with a solid success we can build from with other releases.
Q: Will there be more Zaptales stories to look forward to?
Chris: Absolutely. We already have the next 5 books – all classic tales from the famous Charles Perrault collection – in testing, and will also be releasing 5 stories from Hans Christian Andersen soon after. We’re also working on a set of very basic books for even younger audiences, including an ABC primer, and books about shapes, colors, and numbers. After that, we’re going to do more, based on what we see the audience wants, and where we can add the most value.
Download Zaptales: Interactive Fairy Tales for free from the iTunes store, available for the iPad and iPhone. Get the first story completely free to read and play, and then find more in the Bookstore and continue the fun! Experience storytelling like never before!