TotemUp

App review by
Ana Beltran, Common Sense Media
TotemUp App Poster Image
Stacking, customizing monsters falls short on fun, learning.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can explore different number combinations to make 10.

Ease of Play

A guiding hand pops up when the game is launched the first time, but it only provides help once. Point of game is not inherently clear; kids may need help of a grown-up to fully enjoy the game.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

Links to merchandise, other apps by same developer appear on main screen. A birth year has to be provided to gain access.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that TotemUp allows kids to build totems with customizable little creatures that combine to make the number 10. Kids can select eggs to hatch and add to their totem. Once creatures are on the totem, options pop up for kids to customize the face, color, pattern, and arms of each creature. Kids get to see different ways of making 10. They get to stack different combinations before knocking them down to play again. The launch page displays a link to access TotemUp merchandise and another to access other apps by the same company. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.  

User Reviews

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What's it about?

In TOTEMUP, kids click on eggs labeled with one, two, or three dots in order to make them hatch. The dots indicate the number of rungs the creature will take up on the totem. Kids can then customize the creatures by clicking on arrows that change their arms, color, pattern, or face. Players repeat this until they have stacked combinations to make 10. Once they complete their totem, a camera appears in the bottom left corner, giving kids the option to capture their favorite totems before knocking them down and starting over. 

When the app is launched for the first time, a guiding hand pops up to give kids visual directions. It prompts them to click on one of the eggs and to click on the arrows that change the little creatures' features. A throbbing heart in the bottom right corner brings creatures to life on the totem. Once the stack is complete, clicking the pulsing spark makes the totem shake and knocks it down. The launch page has an option to turn off the sound and the music.

Is it any good?

Though it's a cool idea with some solid features, the overall experience needs a bit more guidance, skill levels, and feedback. On the upside, the background adapts to represent day and night, which is cool. Little ones will enjoy customizing each little monster and will have fun making the totem shake and watching it fall. The graphics are simple yet visually appealing. However, the game itself lacks entertainment value, and after building a few totems, kids may lose interest. There's little incentive for kids to keep playing, since there's little variety and there are no options for different levels of difficulty. Although visual directions appear through a guiding hand when the game launches, the purpose of the game won't be clear to little ones without the help of a grown-up. The guiding hand appears only once, offering no support for new players or when kids get stuck. Little ones learning about numbers would benefit from encouragement to read the numbers aloud. Audio cues to reinforce numbers would help kids make the connection between the dots on the eggs and the size of the creatures on the ladder. The idea of customizable little creatures to explore numbers and combinations of 10 is cool, but ultimately, TotemUp drops the ball with regards to entertainment and educational value. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about different ways to make 10 in TotemUp and offscreen. What numbers did you combine to make 10? Are there other combinations? Can you count up to 10?

  • Create real life totems by stacking blocks or Lego bricks. Provide two different colored blocks and challenge kids to make different combinations of 10. 

App details

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