If you are not hip to Toca. It's time. The Toca series is a sure fire success. We love them and I do mean "we". Despite the age appropriate disclosures, you will certainly find yourself playing the game (all in the name of good parenting - of course!)

This is particularly true with the brand's latest release, Toca City - a part of the Toca Life series which also includes Toca Life: Town and Toca Life: School  (due out October 2015).  All Toca games have been Skye-tested but Toca Life: City had my 6-year old so enthralled, she proclaimed, "it should be called Toca World". And she's right.  She's played several imaginative, roll-playing games but there is so much to be discovered in Toca City that it takes weeks of playtime before all the activities and fun features are uncovered - And just when you think you've discover it all, they sneak in another section. The lastest theater add-on created such a ruckus, you would have thought it was her birthday.

The Game

What I love most is how easy it is to launch and play Toca games. Touch the App icon and hit the prominent "play" button and a musically animated playtime begins. Next you can choose where you want to go in the city.   There are over 30 characters who can visit 5 locations, each detailed with recognizable symbols. A mall embellished with a shirt, puppy and an apple. A salon with a large scissors. An outdoor food court and an apartment building that jiggles and bounces.  Then last but not least is the theater with a house band, costumes and concession stand.

Each location has a ton of interactive accessories that can be carried to the next location.  There is music and audio effects but no verbal instructions, so it's truly an exploratory experience with thousands of options and activities - just like in real life.

Added Value

The Toca Life series has recently added features that help bring the storytelling aspect of pretend play to life.  We've all seen our kids take a doll or action figure and talk/walk it through it's imaginary adventures.  Well, Toca Life allows kids to record and save those adventures.  For a little inspiration, there is a lightbulb on the upper- right corner of home screen.  Click it and swipe to see sample videos made by those kookie and creative folks at Toca.

Take the time to play Toca with your kids.  That imagination muscle may be weak but it's still there. Check out the videos Skye and I made - long before writing this review or watching the Toca videos. There is also multi-touch, to make playing with your kid that much more fun.

Parental Tips

Some kids need a little assistance getting started.  Others jump right in.  No matter how your child plays, seeing how they interact with Toca's virtual pretend play world can be very enlightening.

  1. Where does your child go first?
  2. Where do they spend the most time?
  3. How much assistance do they need in adventuring throughout the game?  Why?

Playtime Tips:

  1. Re-create real-life rituals that are challenging. (Ex. getting ready for school or bed, eating dinner, sharing, shyness, etc)
  2. Offer cues but let them be the directors of their story.  (Ex.  Ask about your child's character and what that characters likes and dislikes are?  What do they like to eat?  What did that character do today?  Is their character hungry?)
  3. Use new settings and objects to facilitate conversations?  (Ex.  Why does your child's character like the theater? Is that an interest you may pursue in real life?)

For more tips on storytelling, check out Toca's blog:

Toca Life Series: Storytelling Fun with Toca Boca

5 Ways to Play in the City

If you love Toca Life: City, you'll love the newest edition in the series, Toca Life: School, check out a preview.

"Toca Life: City" Pretend Play for Real Life

Fun Factor

APP REVIEW Toca Life: City