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Microsoft's latest iOS app: Kinectimals

This supercute Xbox port should prove very entertaining to young kids. But here's hoping Halo is next in line for the iOS treatment.

If you think this little guy looks cute here, you should see him frolic around your screen.
If you think this little guy looks cute here, you should see him frolic around your screen. Microsoft

First came OneNote, then SkyDrive. Now, Microsoft is jumping into the iOS games market with Kinectimals, a mobile version of the popular Kinect console title.

"Game" might not be the right word. Kinectimals simulates adopting and playing with a tiger cub (your choice of five breeds at the beginning, with five more you can unlock). Target audience: 3-year-olds.

OK, slightly older kids might enjoy this as well, but Kinectimals is so simplistic that I think anyone over the age of 7 is likely to lose interest pretty quickly.

That's not to say this Tamogotchi-style experience is bad, because it's not. Rather, it's cute as the dickens, with frisky tiger cubs who jump and coo and catch (or at least paw at) tennis balls. Soothing new-agey music plays in the background.

For the first few minutes, it's not immediately obvious what you're supposed to do with your cub. If you tap him, the camera zooms in and lets you "pet" him. Eventually he'll wander off and get a ball or a jump-rope, both used for kid-friendly mini-games.

Tip: tap the trophy icon, which offers challenges (starting with basic tutorials) that earn you experience points and coins you can spend on extra items.

Those items can be found by tapping the inventory icon, which also reveals options like Food, Care Items, Trick Mode, and so on. There's even a weird but cute Camera option that sends you to a studio for a photo shoot with your cub. (The snapshots are automatically saved to your iDevice's photo library.) You'd think each photo would show just your pet, but they include the studio surroundings--lights, backdrops, etc.--as well. Like I said: weird.

Some of this can be figured out just by tapping around, but I think parents should read the How to Play guide so they can properly instruct kids, who might get frustrated by the lack of progression. (Embarrassing admission: I didn't read the instructions, and I got frustrated by the lack of progression. Once I learned the basics, however, I started having some fun.)

By the way, Kinectimals for iOS has the enviable capability to transfer cubs to and from the Xbox version.

Speaking of which, the latter costs $50 at Amazon. Kinectimals for iOS is $2.99. I think I know which one I'd start with.