It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but I was a huge Goosebumps fan as a kid. I loved those spooky stories that weren’t too spooky, just enough to give my spine a little chill, and it looks like their prolific author is scaring up a storm at the App Store with R.L. Stine’s Haunted House of Sound.
With Halloween upon us, this creepy, older kid-friendly app is a throwback to old-fashioned radio plays, but with a Mad Libs twist. You have your choice of 6 different spooky stories. Each story has you select a number of different sounds from an enormous sound bank. The sounds are all broken out into different categories, like “Evil Machines” or the ever-descriptive “Ugh! Gross!”. These will all be used later as sound effects in the story, but just like Mad Libs, you won’t know when, so your selections might end up being super-creepy or absurdly hilarious.
The stories themselves, rather than a scary story around the campfire, are really more like short radio plays with professional voicework. They’re all very professional, polished, and although the dialogue isn’t exactly Shakespeare, it’s simple enough for kids to follow, and the actors make the best of the material. The stories only last around 5 minutes each, but you can run through them again and again, changing the sounds around each time. You can also save favorite stories and listen to them again later.
The scares tend to be pretty tame, no blood or guts involved, but a lot of the humor in the stories and sounds tends to be of the schoolyard toilet variety, so consider yourself warned if you’re not in the mood for fart and burp jokes. One aspect I imagine kids might especially like is the option to record your own sounds and use them in the stories. You can also access the soundbank by itself and just use it as a soundboard whenever you please.
The interface is a little on the cluttered and confusing side, especially if you’re going to hand this one off to your kids, but it becomes clearer after a bit of experimentation. It’s not much to look at, but as you might expect, the sound is the main draw here, and the audio is top notch.
All in all, it’s a very solid and pleasing little app, but I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t any reading involved, since R.L. Stine is known primarily for his books. Still for parents looking for mildly spooky family entertainment, even without any education value, this is still a fun app that the kids can enjoy.
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