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Desperate Housewives: The Game
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Desperate Housewives: The Game is an adventure. Although the plot involves a murder, and your character's father leaves you a gun, there really isn't much violence. Likewise, there isn't any inappropriate content within the game. Players who don't want to wait for their character's energy to recharge can choose to pay for items to extend their play session.
What's it about?
Desperate Housewives ended years ago, but you don't need to have seen the show to play DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES: THE GAME. While trying to find clues to a murder, your character, an advice columnist, meets various housewives and earns relationship points by interacting with them; these points help you advance levels. You'll also earn diamonds, which you can use to buy energy to keep playing. Completing tasks within various episodes will earn you money, reputation points, and energy; you'll also unlock clothes, furniture, and entry to new areas as you play.
Is it any good?
This puzzle app is really more of a soap opera -- characters unravel clues and seek out gossip, and you're often asked to choose between being honest and avoiding certain questions. The storyline, based on a murder, isn't something that's really geared toward kids; the intended audience is definitely adults. But the content isn't gory -- the plot focuses primarily on solving the crime, so parents may be OK with kids using the app. Players get rewarded for social interactions and completing tasks, and this, coupled with the fact that they come across clues along the way, can help keep them engaged in the experience. Some players may be annoyed, though, by the fact the graphics don't always match up with the action: Characters don't move at all when you perform a task, such as smashing a padlock with a saucepan, which is kind of a bummer. Given all the emphasis on making a choice about what your character will do next, not being able to see it play out is a bit disappointing.
The game could use a clear set of instructions to really explain what all the rewards you earn for various actions are for, although it does a nice job of showing players what progress they've made. For example, clues picked up in each episode are clearly displayed in a separate section that also shows which items the player still needs to find. The app does have one pretty big drawback, though, which players of all ages may find frustrating: You run out of energy fairly quickly, and the game then times out. You can spend some of the gems you've earned solving clues to avoid interrupting your playing experience, but you don't get the chance to earn gems very often, so you won't have an unlimited supply. Players can also spend some cash on an in-app purchases to buy more energy, but that could potentially add up fast. If you're out of gems or just don't want to shell out any money, chances are you'll be waiting around to try to start solving the mystery again. Drawing the Desperate Housewives saga out that much may mean kids -- and any adults who are playing -- lose interest and completely give up on the investigation.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what elements make a worthwhile sim experience. What are some topics that could be meaningful to base conversations with other characters on?
The app involves solving a mystery. How can you approach a situation and use observational skills to begin figuring out what's going on?
The app rewards users for completing goals. Can you provide an example of something that can be made easier by approaching it in segments?