50 States - Best Educational Game

App review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
50 States - Best Educational Game App Poster Image
Decent geography game roadblocked by ads.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Ads in free version detract from potential to learn about U.S. states and their capitals. States aren't all drawn with reasonable accuracy, making it hard for kids to learn their outlines. 

Ease of Play

Controls are easy to use, but the directions consist largely of vague images that suggest what to do. The goals aren't always clear. Hints are available but in limited quantities. Additional hints require an in-app purchase.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism

Free version is so full of ads (banner, pop-up, video) as to almost render it unplayable. Bonus games are unlocked once the player reaches a certain number of successfully completed rounds but can only be played once for free. Additional plays require watching a 30-second video each time. There's no parent gate for in-app purchases.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that 50 States - Best Educational Game is extremely similar to Stack the States. It does have a more polished and colorful interface, but the paid version also is more expensive ($4.99 vs. $2.99). The free version is nearly impossible to play with the constant ad interruptions, and even the bonus games require watching a video before each play. Purchasing the full version unlocks the mini-games and removes banner ads but doesn't entirely remove advertising. Hints are available, but they take more than half an hour to regenerate unless you watch an ad. The privacy policy is available as a pop-up window on the publisher's website.

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What's it about?

50 STATES - BEST EDUCATIONAL GAME is a a game to learn about the U.S. states, their capitals, and their location on the map. There also are bits of trivia, such as the location of certain landmarks, state flags, and state mottos. In the main game, kids are asked multiple-choice questions about a state. If they answer correctly, they are given the chance to drop that state on a platform. The goal is to stack the states high enough (without them toppling over) to reach a line. If they get a wrong answer, the line moves up. If kids can reach the line, they earn a state in their main menu map. As kids collect states, they unlock bonus mini-games: Map It, Join 2, Pile Up, and Capital. The games involve skills such as placing states on the map, joining states together like a puzzle, identifying states by shape, and identifying the capital. 

Is it any good?

While basically a knockoff of Stack the States, this decent educational geography game has an overabundance of ads, even in the paid version. 50 States - Best Educational Game may not be an original idea, but it's cute and colorful and silly. It suffers from the inability to choose a level or select which states/facts to include, and it has no instructions. Some of them are tricky -- matching two states along their border requires a strong memory or a nearby map -- but players can skip the mini-games they don't enjoy. The states are so sad (or indignant) when there's a wrong answer in the quiz that kids may be tempted to choose incorrectly just to see their response. The overwhelming drawback of this title is the constant advertising, some of which parents likely will find inappropriate for younger audiences. There's no way to completely remove it, even with the premium in-app upgrade. Also, some of the states are slightly misshapen which may cause some confusion. Massachusetts, in particular, is missing its distinctive curved region. There's a lot of promise here, but if you want ad-free educational content for your kids, you'll have to look elsewhere, even if you're willing to pay for it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about advertising. What role does it play? How do you know what to believe and what to question? How do you feel about the ads in 50 States - Best Educational Game?

  • Talk about in-app purchases and how/if kids can request purchases from an adult. What are the family rules?

  • Make a list of states you've visited as a family or would like to visit. Mark them on a map. What are some interesting things about each state?

App details

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For kids who love geography and homework help

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