A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Kids can learn a bit about the physics that govern building integrity and enjoy some light physical movement in this motion-controlled puzzle game. Kids raze stony castles by using their hands and arms to fire objects into the walls. They learn to identify and exploit weak spots in basic structures. Kids also need to think hard and strategize as they figure out the best way to use different types of ammunition and power-ups to achieve specific point goals. As kids fling projectiles to destroy goblin-infested castles, they may start thinking about structural physics and issues involved in building deconstruction.
Players' goal is to wreck castles infested with goblins, but the violence is both fantastical and mild. It encourages social gaming experiences via a local multiplayer mode, and gets kids up off the couch and engaging in modest physical activity.
Positive Role Models
The characters in this game are obsessed with destroying stuff, but their actions are more or less impossible to duplicate in the real world. The main character never speaks, and his movements mimic the player's physical actions, making him less a personality within the game and more a virtual representation of the person playing.
Ease of Play
A series of tutorial levels does a good job of familiarizing new players with the game's motion controls; and instructions are provided whenever a new feature is introduced. Difficulty is forgiving at first, allowing rookies to score well even when muddling along. However, levels grow harder with time. By the fifth of the game's 10 worlds players won't be able to get by on luck alone, and by the seventh world they’ll likely need to retry most levels at least a couple of times just to earn the bronze medal necessary to unlock the next challenge.
Violence & Scariness
Players fling a variety of cross-bow ammunition -- balls, bombs, bullet-like projectiles -- at castles filled with green goblins. Cartoonish goblins get knocked down and disappear when struck. They also occasionally get stuck on the side of slow-moving balls. There is no blood or gore.
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Products & Purchases
This game promotes a new Xbox Live feature called Avatar Famestar (a series of challenges and rewards). It also showcases upcoming games in the Famestar line.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Wreckateer is a downloadable physics-based puzzle game designed exclusively for Xbox Kinect. It makes kids put on their thinking caps to figure out how best to tear down stone castles using only a ballista and handful of ammunition. Plenty of garish goblins (they burp and fart) get destroyed as the castles tumble, but kids see no blood, gore, or bodies. The cartoonish green creatures simply fall down and disappear. Parents should note that this game demands a moderate amount of physical activity and plenty of play space.
Is It Any Good?
The physics can be a little wonky, and the graphics aren't much more sophisticated than those of an iPhone game, but Wreckateer can be a real blast. Steering a wrecking ball in just the right way to fly through power-ups en route to smashing into castle spires -- and creating a big mess of virtual debris in the process -- is both satisfying and entertaining. There's not much of a story, but that doesn't really matter. The fun comes from figuring out the perfect shot to maximize your score and earn better medals, and working toward completing challenges like hitting a certain number of power-up icons or ramming balls into goblins before hitting walls. Many Kinect games are downright mediocre, but Wreckateer stands out as one of the most enjoyable and habit-forming motion control experiences available to Xbox gamers.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.