Anyone who remembers rushing home to feed their Tamagotchi after school will appreciate the appeal of Pou. This strange little virtual pet is daft, quirky and pretty addictive, and it happens to teach kids about responsibility and caring too.
First developed back in 2012 by Zakeh, the app can now be supported on IOS and android devices and is available to buy from the apple store, google play and the Zakeh website.
Pou is suitable for kids from the age of 4 up, and is surprisingly popular with adults too. The graphics and games themselves may be simple, but the principle is timeless.
This app allows you to carry a pet around in your pocket, take it on holiday, to school and even in the car, and you don’t have to deal with any of the mess or expense that a real little critter would cause.
Read on to find out all you need to know about Pou, and decide whether he might be something you need in your life too.
What exactly is Pou?
No, you aren’t reading it wrong, Pou really is pronounced like the doggy-doo-doo version, and yes, he looks suspiciously like a doggy-doo-doo too. But believe it or not, Pou is an alien, and once you get used to his brown, blob-shaped appearance he is actually incredibly cute.
He starts off as a youngster when you first download the app, and grows and develops as you look after him. The more you care for him and complete tasks, the more outfits and cool accessories you can buy for him, and that even includes hair-dos and facial hair!
So how do you play?
The app itself is incredibly simple. Once downloaded you will be invited to look after Pou in the same way you would look after a new hamster or rabbit or any other cute furry pet. There is no need to register or input lots of personal information, you can just crack straight on with the fun.
Pou’s health and happiness ratings are displayed at the top of the screen so you can see when he needs feeding, cleaning, playing with or cuddling. He makes a whining sound when he is unhappy which helps to alert you to his needs.
As soon as you notice the problem you can move into a new room to sort it out. There is a bathroom where you can wash and shower him with soap and bubbles. There is a kitchen where you can guide different food items into his mouth and see if he likes them or not.
And there is a whole world outside for Pou to explore, full of games and diversions which up his happiness rating.
These games are really fun in their own right, and enable you to score points and collect coins. There are driving games, sports games, tap and match games and much, much more.
There are 32 games in the games room in fact, and once you collect enough coins you can level up and unlock all sorts of cool rewards.
One of the most popular aspects of the app is the huge array of clothes and accessories that you can buy for Pou as you progress.
There are eye-glasses, hats and canes, gowns and shoes… there is even a police outfit you can unlock! And there are also really bright and zany wallpapers available, to jazz up Pou’s home.
Design and Tech Rating
The overall design of the app is very simple, and has not changed much since it first came out in 2012. Pou himself is essentially a block colored line drawing, and the setting and backdrops are just as simplistic.
Some people find this to be a negative aspect, but the bold colors and loud shapes actually give the app a cool retro feel, reminiscent of the early games and apps. The design also means that the layout is incredibly easy to understand and navigate, making it accessible even to the youngest users.
It doesn’t take up much space or data on your mobile device either, which is a big problem with lots of more advanced apps that have complicated graphics.
Though it may seem daft and pointless on first inspection, the Pou app actually offers some pretty beneficial lessons that kids won’t even know they are taking in. The most obvious of these is that it teaches kids how to take responsibility and care for another creature.
The fact that the animation visibly shrinks and becomes bug-eyed and sad if it isn’t fed regularly, means that kids get to see the effects of neglect and learn from their mistakes.
The app does not unlock cool new accessories and clothes unless Pou is happy and healthy, with plenty of energy and attention having been paid to him, so kids have to be disciplined and dedicated if they want to progress.
This makes the Pou app a great tester if your child is desperate to get a real pet but doesn’t quite understand the reality of what caring for one involves.
Many parents will know the feeling of having given into their child’s endless pleas and bought a pet hamster, only to find that the novelty wears off within a week and you end up doing all the cleaning and feeding while your kid watches TV.
Pou can help to prepare kids for the tasks involved in real pet care without any of the real upset and inconvenience if they decide they don’t like it.
However, the main thing about Pou is that it is fun! It is good old-fashioned, silly fun, which is great for helping you switch off and take some time out from a busy and stressful day.
Kids can visit and connect up with other people who also have the app, which is great for friendly competitions amongst siblings and friends. You have to have an internet connection in order to be able to do this, but the app continues to function without the internet if you just want to look after and spend time with your Pou.
The developers also add some great holiday themed updates, meaning you can dress your Pou in witches hats at Halloween and a Santa beard at Christmas time!
The main downside to the app is that many of the best accessories and rewards require an in-app purchase. They are not expensive, but it is still frustrating for many kids when they can’t access the newest items without their parents credit card.
And it is just as frustrating for parents! The developers argue that almost everything can be purchased using the virtual coins gained through good care points and game play, however, it is pretty hard to accrue enough coins to unlock many rewards and kids have to play for a long time to do so.
The inevitable result is that you spend more money than you would like buying hats and shoes for your kid’s Pou, or that you feel guilty at how disappointed they are not to have access to those things.
The best remedy is to set clear expectations from the very beginning and make sure your child knows that, though you may let them buy something every once in a while as a treat for good behavior, they will not be able to get all the items they see on the app.
The in-app purchases are a really annoying feature of the app, but it is hard to find an app that doesn’t offer them these days so, in a way, it is good for your child to get used to ignoring them. The same can be said for advertisements.
Pou does have ads, which is something many parents dislike. However, the ads tend to just be banners at the bottom of the screen and therefore don’t interfere with the actual game too much.
So, is it safe for kids?
Overall, the Pou app is incredibly safe for kids because it is so simple and harmless, and it is easy enough that they can play it on their own without needing constant supervision. This is great for allowing you to get on with the many things that you need to do.
The trouble comes when you try to make your kids get off the app! Because Pou is so cute and the world is so jolly and fun, the game can be pretty addictive and can therefore suck players in for a surprisingly long time.
This is never a good thing, especially for kids, so it is important to set time limits and make sure that they are agreed upon and established before play begins. Little and often works best, and Pou will think so too!
- Pou is a pet without the mess!
- Easy to use, simple design - it is great for anyone aged 4 and up!
- Educational value - it teaches the importance of responsibility and care
- Fun Factor - the games and rewards are brilliant and enjoyable
- Togetherness - you can connect with other players
- Many rewards and accessories require in-app purchases
- The app has ads
- Can be addictive - so set time limits