Name That App: The Karate Kid

**As published in digiday:DAILY** Publisher: Sony Pictures Price: Free Platform: iPhone/iPod Touch Advertising: None Functionality: B+ Fun Factor: A- Overall: A- For kids that grew up in the 1980s – call them Gen Y or Millenials – there are a few quintessential films from those years that help define that period of innocence and wonder. For me, that list includes The Karate Kid. The 1984 classic hit all the right notes – geeky, scrawny kid defies the odds, goes up against his bullies and wins. With the remake slated for a premiere on June 9, Sony Pictures is using a new game app to market it. And when I discovered the app, I didn’t hesitate to hit install. The studio does a great job of not taking over the application with plugs for the film. Users that want to know more about the movie can simply click on the “about the film” button; at other times, recorded lines are woven into the app. While I may not exactly be the target demographic for the remake of the film, engaging longtime fans and/or potential fans with the opportunity to become a virtual karate kid in their own right couldn’t be more right on the money.

The nostalgia immediately set in when I fired up the game and heard Jackie Chan’s voice tell me “I will teach you real kung fu.” Of the five training courses – patience, courage, endurance, perseverance and will – I’m still learning from the master, but the point is I’m having fun and remembering parts of my childhood in the process. Upon unsuccessful attempts to catch all the flies with my chopsticks in the patience course or break clean through wood planks in the courage course, Jackie Chan’s voice comes on again and alternatively says “your focus needs more focus” or “connect to the energy around you.” Call me easy to please, but that’s just awesome. Throughout the game, players can rack up points and eventually earn badges of achievements and move up in their level of playing ability. The home menu is decidedly simple with a graphic for the new film, which comes out June 11, as a background. Users can choose their own music to hear while playing the game, learn about the film, check points, get information about the app or simply play the game. I particularly like the fact that Sony Pictures didn’t bog down the game with promotional content and rather let the content and theme of the film’s story speak for itself through game play. So while there is no outward advertising component, the digital marketing efforts are right in line with where they need to be. Sony Pictures easily could have screwed this up. The fact it didn’t actually gives me hope that the film remake might be equally surprising.

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