A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Cars: Lightning League is a racing game app. Kids can make in-app purchases when playing, unless you've adjusted your device settings. Otherwise, there's no inappropriate content, and the experience is a pretty positive one -- they'll get rewards and encouragement for finishing rounds.
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What's it about?
In CARS: LIGHTNING LEAGUE, tied to the release of the Disney-Pixar movie Cars 3, players steer Lightning McQueen through various locations from the film to help him prepare for a comeback. Swiping right or left changes lanes, and gamers can also make their car jump, drift, crash crates, and pick up coins, which are used to upgrade the car's speed and acceleration ability, along the way. Kids can also unlock other cars by collecting blueprints, awarded after levels are completed, or by using gems, which they can purchase with coins.
Is it any good?
This racing game is a fast, fun experience that gives a taste of speeding through movie scenes behind the wheel of a beloved character. Drivers can zoom through various challenges by swiping right, left, or up, smashing crates, whizzing up ramps, and grabbing coins and other items along the way. The game has responsive, easy-to-use touchscreen controls that are explained with detailed instructions -- as arrows swipe across the screen in each example in the introductory demo, kids have to physically repeat the move, which should help them get comfortable using the controls before the game officially starts. Because the explanation is so visual, younger kids who aren't able to read yet shouldn't have a problem figuring out how to play. But the action moves fast enough, particularly in later rounds, for older kids to enjoy it, too. The graphics are impressive: Flames occasionally shoot out from under the car, light surrounds it as you drift in slow motion, and a bird's-eye view of the course highlights what challenges are ahead. In addition to an enjoyable driving experience, the game provides a few elements that reinforce working toward goals. Kids are given small milestones to achieve in rounds, such as completing a certain amount of meters or reaching the finish line. Because they're fairly simple, kids shouldn't end up feeling frustrated or start to worry that progressing to future levels will be impossible and give up. As kids complete levels, they earn items that can help them later increase their car's speed and other capabilities -- which is a nice way of rewarding them for completing a task.
To advance, kids have the option of making in-app purchases. That might be a point of concern for some parents, but kids really don't need to buy anything, because they can earn gems (which help you obtain fuel or recover if you crash) by playing. This helps the game avoid grinding to a halt. Overall, Cars: Lightning League is a fun, wild ride and a pretty harmless one that parents can feel fine letting kids take.
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