A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this app.
Kids can learn about matching, by playing a game where they're asked to pair up rows of similarly shaped gems. Because they can only move the gems from side to side or up and down (instead of across multiple squares on the board), the game should also help them hone their logic skills. Counting is also required. Written directions provide a little reading experience; and quitting mid-game will also cost them -- users lose a life -- which can reinforce the importance of finishing what you start. Generally, the game is more fun than educational; but kids should still get some subtle skills practice when playing.
Kids get upbeat, encouraging praise like "Amazing!" when they win a round.
Ease of Play
Simple instructions; easy to learn.
Products & Purchases
Contains ad messages; kids can watch to get rewards. They can also buy gems as an in-app purchase (with real money) to trade for coins, in-app currency. Prices range from $1.99 for 20 to $74.99 for 1,000.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Barbie Sparkle Blast is a match-3 puzzle app. Kids can connect with friends through Facebook through the app, if they choose to, to get help playing the game. But they can't chat with or meet other users they don't know. Kids don't have to register or enter any personal information to use the app, so their experience should be a safe one. While there's no inappropriate content in the game, players can read in-app ads or watch ad videos for in-game currency.
Is It Any Good?
This match-3 puzzle app might be fun for little kids, but it's pretty shallow and doesn't improve on the genre. Barbie Sparkle Blast doesn't offer dozens of games or virtual world experiences -- its premise is fairly simple: Play matching games, trade your winnings for coins, and use the coins on clothes, shoes, or hairstyles for your virtual persona.
Although there are different levels that present a more challenging version of the game, the basic structure doesn't differ much; older kids may lose interest fairly quickly as a result. For younger kids, though, there are plenty of levels and enough instruction to make the app a fun event. If they get confused, the app helps them identify a potential match by gently wiggling and illuminating a gem -- a nice touch to ensure they don't get stumped, become frustrated, and walk away. They'll hopefully also learn a bit about logic by playing; the only drawback is that sometimes when you make a match, as the gems on the board shift, other matches occur -- sometimes so quickly you can barely tell what's happening. Considering, though, that will probably help keep kids from getting bored, that's not necessarily a bad thing. To offer additional instruction, the app could make more use of Barbie, who giggles and gets excited when you succeed. If she provided some guidance as the game progresses, Barbie Sparkle Blast might be able to squeeze in a little bit more of an emphasis on decision making and other skills, instead of simply being window dressing.
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.