A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this app.
Ease of Play
The app is easy to learn and has a tutorial the first time you play. However, it can be tricky for younger kids to remember to keep the car in the center of the screen, where it works best. Also, when using the physical toys, sometimes the connection is weak, which means the iPad will not detect the car and nothing moves.
Violence & Scariness
The cars can be driven into objects like crates or cactuses that will smash apart. Also, one of the gadgets that can be acquired is a pair of wings with rockets, allowing the player to fire rockets that explode. However, these do not harm other character vehicles.
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Products & Purchases
The app, while free, is designed to work with the Cars 2 AppMATEs toys, physical cars that interact with the iPad. It can work without them, but is a much more interactive experience with the toys. In the game, there is an info screen showing the various toys available and marking which ones have been "collected." Also, since this is part of Disney's Cars 2 line, it is linked to a lot of other merchandise. There is also a link to other apps by the developers.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Cars 2 AppMATes is a free driving simulation game designed to work with the physical AppMATes toys. The app can be played without them, but loses some of the interactivity. While there are no in-app purchases, parents should be aware that the Disney Cars theme means that the app is linked to a lot of other merchandise, and there are links in the game to other Disney Mobile apps. There is some cartoon violence as the cars can be driven into structures and objects that crash, but there isn't other violence involving the cars themselves.
Is It Any Good?
The CARS 2 APPMATES is two things in one: a free app and a set of toys (purchased separately) shaped like various characters from the Cars 2 movie. The app allows kids to drive around the fictional town of Radiator Springs, participating in races and doing short "missions" for some of the other characters in town. Winning races and completing missions earns hubcaps, which can then be spent on buying things like new tires, horns, and accessories for the cars.
Although the app can be played without the toys using a "paper toy" version of Lightning McQueen, it really shines when paired with the toys. They are placed on the iPad screen, and the landscape moves beneath the toys, making it feel like the toy car is really in the world. The onscreen graphics and sounds coordinate with the toy with great results. The only problem is that sometimes if the connection is weak then the iPad doesn't detect the toy, which breaks the spell as you try to get the connection back.
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.