If you've got artistic kids, but aren't so keen on letting them loose on a pumpkin with a sharp knife this Halloween, Loud Crow Interactive offers the next best thing with virtual pumpkin carving in The Great Pumpkin Festival. Better yet, there's no force-fed pumpkin pie penalty to endure afterward. See Best Android Apps.
The Great Pumpkin Festival is a very simple app in which the comic-strip cast of Charles Schulz's Peanuts dress up and do Halloween. It goes hand in hand with It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (£1.89, Google Play), a storybook app based on the same-name 1966 TV special. However, with Peanuts' final broadcast in February 2000 (excluding re-runs), we can't help wondering whether The Great Pumpkin Festival is more closely targeted at kids or us adults. See Greedy Spiders 2 review.
Having launched the app, it's clear that Loud Crow Interactive has kids in mind. First you must create your own avatar, and a range of hairstyles, clothing, facial expressions, shoes and more let you mimic the style of Charlie Brown, Peppermint Patty or Marcie, for example. See Zombie Dash review.
You can then dress up your character in Halloween gear, with some of the customisations free and others forcing you to part with your trick-or-treating loot. You begin with five coins and 5,000 sweets, so only the best costumes will actually cost you real cash (10 coins cost 99p, up to 10,000 for £29.99), although it's also possible to win them.
With your avatar ready, you can begin carving your pumpkin, which will be entered into The Great Pumpkin Festival competition. The final decision will be given tonight (31 October), and the winning pumpkin published on Loud Crow Interactive's Facebook page. In the meantime, other users get to guess and Like your creation.
Our only gripe with The Great Pumpkin Festival is that it's really just a drawing competition, a bit like Pictionary or Draw Something, with a few pumpkins and scary costumes thrown in for Halloween. Forget carving a simple but scary face into your pumpkin; these days, kids have got clever. You're given a choice of three words - easy, medium and difficult - and must pick one to carve. There's a range of brushes, tools and colours with which to experiment, and you then submit your finished pumpkin for judging. You can submit up to 10 creations per day.
When others correctly guess the word you were drawing you win sweets, and when they Like your creation you win coins - plus a better chance of scooping the overall title of best pumpkin. There's nothing to stop you simply writing the word, but you probably won't win any coins. And it's that simple.
Except it really isn't, on the smaller screen of a smartphone, without a stylus. After several naff pumpkins we gave up and drew a scary face. The Great Pumpkin Festival is optimised for widescreen devices, but we really recommend a tablet for best results. See How to make a stylus.
The app's graphics are nice, and look almost as though they've been painted onscreen. But The Great Pumpkin Festival itself is rather laggy, and persistence demands a lot of patience. It also force-closed a few times during our tests.