Pokémon Smile (Mobile)

Pokémon has delighted and entertained kids for generations, and now the little pocket monsters are helping make brushing teeth a little more fun.  Pokémon Smile is a brushing app for mobile devices (reviewed on iPhone here) geared towards very young children.  Best of all, it’s completely free with no in-game ads or purchases.  Not sure how it makes money, but good for them!  But will it make kids excited to brush their teeth?  You’ll just have to read on to find out!

The first thing you’ll do is a pick a Pokémon. You can choose Pikachu, Eevee, or one of the three starter Pokémon from the generation one games.  I picked Bulbasaur because that was my first Pokémon.  Oh yeah, I should also mention I was the one playing this.  One reason why is because I have no shame, but the other reason is because there just aren’t any young kids around the house anymore.  That’s what happens with kids, they grow up!  It’s a good thing I’m still a kid at heart!

Anyway, after you do that, you can start brushing.  The game uses AR, or Augmented Reality.  You’re supposed to look at the screen, which will show a picture of you wearing an animated Pokémon hat along with some teeth at the bottom.  You’re supposed to follow the picture directions to brush your teeth in certain places, and your little Pokémon on the bottom will attack the purple germ clouds.  Do this enough times and you can attack a big purple cloud with a Pokémon inside.  At the end of the duration, you can swipe the screen and attempt to catch the Pokémon inside a Pokeball for your collection!

After you brush, the game shows you some pictures of you brushing that you can save, and then you’ll unlock a new hat to wear, stickers to put on pictures, or even a new Pokémon.  And here’s the main problem I had with the game.  I brushed my teeth every day straight for two weeks using this app and while I was able to unlock new stickers or a hat each day, for the life of me I was never able to catch any Pokémon!  I know the game is free and I shouldn’t be complaining about it too much, but I just can’t imagine kids being continuously encouraged if it’s that hard to do.  Or maybe it’s one of those things that’s ‘so easy even a child can do it,’ but adults can’t.

Kid Factor:

Nothing violent or objectionable here.  Even though there are no in-game ads or purchases, I’d still recommend parental supervision since a bathroom is a dangerous place for a cell phone, what with all the water and hard surfaces.  I’d also recommend that parents go to the option screen and change the brushing time.  I think it’s set at either three or five minutes.  I don’t know how long you’re really supposed to brush your teeth, but five minutes is a long time for any kid, I think.  I guess it’s worth a download since it’s free, but just don’t expect too much out of it.

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