Amazing Alex

 

Learning(i)

Angry Birds maker follows up with clever brainteaser.

What parents need to know

Ease of play

Players create Rube Goldberg-like devices to achieve a series of goals. The game walks you through how to do this, but when it sets players loose on their own, it can be a bit overwhelming at times. 

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

The app advertises Rovio's other apps, mainly the Angry Birds franchise, and also includes a subtle reference to the franchise at the bottom of the screen during the first section of the game. 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

Some privacy concerns. Players can opt in to Apple's Game Center to track scores and achievements, and for some games, challenge friends. Players can send and receive friend requests using an email address or Game Center nickname, revealing the first and last name associated with each party's Apple ID and, in the case of email requests, the sender's email address. With iOS 5, players can opt to have a private or public profile, which can include a photo. With a public profile, your real name is visible to all other players, and Game Center will recommend you to other players using your real name. With a private profile, only your friends can see your real name, and Game Center will not recommend you to other players. The app also includes links to Twitter and Facebook.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Amazing Alex is a puzzle game that challenges players to create inventive solutions using their wits and a handful of materials. Players are tasked with different goals and supplies to create contraptions to achieve those goals, then left to imagine how best to create the devices. Players can also create their own puzzles and share them with other players -- as well as download levels from other players, but they do not interact with other people directly. It's also possible to see how others defeated a level. Players can share high scores via the Game Center social network, but participation is optional.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Science

  • engineering
  • gravity
  • physics

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • hypothesis-testing
  • problem solving
  • solving puzzles

Creativity

  • combining knowledge
  • imagination
  • making new creations

Collaboration

  • meeting challenges together

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Kids will love the high-quality graphics, responsive and fine controls, and a simple yet engrossing concept: make your own machines.

Learning Approach

Challenging yet accessible directives and a gradual difficulty-level increase makes kids feel empowered. They won't learn terminology or concepts through hints but will get logical feedback and can interact safely with other players.

Support

A three-star system motivates but rightly takes a backseat to gameplay. Statistics like total time or attempts and way-to-save solutions (for Android) would be a nice addition.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Science

  • engineering
  • gravity
  • physics

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • hypothesis-testing
  • problem solving
  • solving puzzles

Creativity

  • combining knowledge
  • imagination
  • making new creations

Collaboration

  • meeting challenges together

Kids can learn to build inventions and develop engineering skills on a rudimentary level in Amazing Alex. Those inventions use concepts like physics and momentum and can spark a child's interest in building real-world items. The app encourages creativity and imagination, not penalizing players when the inventions don't work the first time. It also fosters a community by letting players share solutions, which could allow kids to view the situation in a different way. Amazing Alex inspires kids to interact imaginatively and intelligently with their world.

This Learning Rating review was written by Chris Morris

What's it about?

Using items like balls, pipes, and scissors, kids create Rube Goldberg-like devices to solve puzzles and collect stars. Kids place objects on the screen wherever they want, then rotate the items with their fingertips. They accomplish goals (such as popping balloons to funneling balls into a basket) by creating a bridge, a domino effect, a swing, or something else entirely. There's no one "right" way to solve puzzles, and players can share solutions with others, as well as create and share their own levels.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Developer Rovio purchased a clever app called Casey's Contraptions, polished it up a bit, and released it as a follow-up to Rovio's massively popular Angry Birds series. If you're expecting the next Angry Birds with Amazing Alex, you may be disappointed. The app, while incredibly fun and mentally stimulating, doesn't have that magic quality that made Angry Birds so successful. 

It does, however, make much better use of its community, and that makes it unique. Players can share solutions to puzzles, and create and share their own puzzles with others. And it's all done in a way that's safe for kids to participate, as players only have access to gameplay and puzzles, rather than communication with strangers. Amazing Alex is a good game -- and one that will test your mental acuity.

Families can talk about...

  • Have kids use LEGOs or similar building kits to make real-world machines to achieve goals.

  • Allow kids to build and experiment using some of the objects that appear in the app. Have them compare and contracts how objects move in the real-world with how the game portrays them.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire
Price:$.99-$2.99
Pricing structure:Free, Free to Try, Paid
Release date:July 12, 2012
Category:Puzzle Games
Size:20.70 MB
Publisher:Rovio Entertainment Ltd
Version:1.0.4
Minimum software requirements:iOS 4.2 or later

This review of Amazing Alex was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 8 years old October 4, 2013
age 5+
 

to difficult fro under 5

this game is awesome its almost better than angy birds its not violent he just set traps and stuff falls on the floor there isnt any bad words they dont even talk but this game could be too hard for under 5 you have to put things to make things work so smaller kids will probably not get it
What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Safety and privacy concerns
Educator and Parent of a 5 year old Written byiamchrismoran October 22, 2014
age 5+
 
LEARNING

Lots of fun

I downloaded it because my son loves contraptions and him building them on the liing room floor with blocks and marbles and anything else he can add in isn't always appropriate for our space. He doesn't get much screen time of any sort, so using my tablet once in a while for educational play is a treat. He loves this game and does pretty well with it. He's pretty bright, so I might suggest that this game is closer to a 6+ rating. When he makes custom puzzles, they lack some challenge. He's enjoying making them, but they aren't quite the same yet. I also enjoyed playing and being a bit OC, always play to get the full 3-star rating. We play on my Nexus 7. The interractive objects are on the lower right corner of the screen and sometimes are hard to "grab". His thinner fingers might have an easier time than mine, but he doesn't from time to time accidentally touch the bottom of the screen activating the home screen and putting the app in the background, which in the beginning freaked him out, until I showed him how to get it back.

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass