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The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Boom Beach is a war-based action game from the makers of Clash of Clans that pits players against computer and human opponents in an attempt to overthrow an island overlord. Although kids will play against strangers, there's no real interaction among players in the game other than raiding each other's beaches and trying to destroy their headquarters. There's plenty of violence, though, with guns, mortars, flamethrowers, and other instruments of destruction used regularly. When characters die or get hurt (which happens frequently), there's no blood, but there are shouts of agony. The game also offers in-app purchases, but they're neither heavily promoted nor necessary for patient players.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
Players must defend and build up an island base as they explore and free the surrounding island natives from an evil overlord. This is done through assaults from both gunships and beach landing parties, who fire upon whatever's in their path. Destroying the opposing headquarters wins the battle (which also has a time limit, so if the headquarters isn't destroyed before the battle ends, you win nothing). Free islands regularly supply you with gold and wood, which then can be used to upgrade your headquarters and build other structures. You have to constantly retake the islands to keep up your resources, though -- and battle other humans. Players can upgrade their troops and armament as they level up in the game.
Is it any good?
Clash of Clans can be an intimidating game; BOOM BEACH offers just as much fun without the tough ramp-up. It's a game that certainly requires some strategic thinking, but it avoids falling in the trap of becoming a resource-gathering treadmill (get stuff, build stuff, get stuff). If you're patient, you can play the game thoroughly without spending a penny (though an in-app purchase system offers lots of shortcuts).
The focus here is on combat, and it's a fun battle to wage. It's well-paced, keeping you in a zone where the battles might be tough but are winnable before opening you up to other human opponents or increasing the computer's advantage. This battle focus comes at the cost of customization: There aren't a lot of personal options for the village you build, something that could change in the months to come. Boom Beach is a freemium game that doesn't shove transactions down your throat and offers some pretty terrific gameplay. There's not much else you could ask for.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the importance and benefits of patience. Is it more satisfying to wait for a fortress to be built, or is the instant satisfaction of an in-app purchase worth it?
Families also can talk about the difference between real-world and cinematic violence and the horrors of real war.