Inspired by the beautiful hand-engraved art of German-born lithographer Joseph Martin Kronheim, famous in the mid-1800s for his children's book illustrations, New York multimedia design studio FusionLab chose the charming alphabetic illustrations from his My First Picture Book to develop their first game app, Antique ABCs, a learning tool for young children exclusively for iPad and iPhone.
FusionLab's partners originally discovered Kronheim's work through Gutenberg Online. However, to get the high-quality images they needed for the app they had to track down an original printing of the book, which proved difficult to do. A copy was finally located through a rare books dealer, with engravings in good condition but a broken and frayed spine and cover - time-worn imperfections that were incorporated into the app design.
Another interesting and perhaps key feature of Kronheim's alphabet: the letters J and X are mysteriously missing. Painter and FusionLab partner Melissa Weaver took this as a challenge to her painting skills, creating from scratch her own illustrations that blend in perfectly with the look of their charmingly antiquated comrades.
When the two missing letters were completed and the entire alphabet ready, it was time to bring the 19th century art to life with FusionLab's engaging modern-day animations and touch-screen interactions. Antique ABCs presents the alphabet with three different functions: Song, Spinner and Shuffle. Throughout, period-evocative music and sound effects recall innocent pastimes of long ago while a friendly voice-over gives prompts and pronunciations.
Song mode introduces the letters of the alphabet by upper and lower case, phonetic sound and corresponding word ("J for Jam"). Children can also choose to play the classic Alphabet Song, which is accompanied by enchanting animation of its vintage images and appropriate sound effects.
The Spinner gives an enjoyably realistic spinning effect when the user scrolls the screen, and tests knowledge of the alphabet as letters come up in randomized order. Children can see both letters and pictures, or choose to see pictures only, so that they can guess the corresponding letter. If stuck, they can "lift" the door partway to get a peek at an animating hint, or all the way to see the answer.
The Shuffle game (available on iPad only) challenges children to reorder the jumbled alphabet back into order. In classic mode, the letters are randomly shuffled in a fixed grid and must be dragged and dropped into place. In the second, free-for-all mode, the letters "spill" onto the board and float around, seemingly sensitive to gravity, as the child tilts the iPad. To solve the game, the child must "dig" through the pile of cards to find the next letter needed and drag and drop it into place. In both Shuffle modes, successful completion is rewarded with the animated Song play.
With Antique ABCs, FusionLab's refined artistic sensitivity and advanced design and development expertise has delivered an application that fuses Kronheim's delicate imagery with great playability and multiple levels of interactivity, for an enchanting user experience. Antique ABCs offers old-timey charm tikes will adore and old-fashioned entertainment value their parents will appreciate.
For FusionLab, creating apps of their own is a new direction, one that has evolved naturally with the multimedia/web 2.0 growth in the industry over the years, and is a thrilling new outlet for the particular artistic talents of its partners.
- Five modes: 1 ABC Song; 2 ABC Spinner games; 2 ABC Shuffle games
- Interactive voice-over with question/answer, word, letter and phonetic pronunciation
- Share options via Facebook, Twitter and email. App support via email included
Universal app offers free ABC song with each additional feature available for $1.99 through in-app purchase.
via PR Mac