Frontier Heroes - A Planet H game from HISTORY

App review by
Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Media
Frontier Heroes - A Planet H game from HISTORY App Poster Image
U.S. history mini-games are fun, but some are way too hard.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn tidbits of history and develop an understanding of the time line of periods of U.S. history. The games are loosely based on particular periods, especially Early American, Colonial, American Revolution, frontier times, and the Gold Rush. The Did You Know facts and videos about each period deliver the most educational content. However, the history presented is centered mostly on the white male experience, missing the role of women and people of color. Overall, Frontier Heroes is designed more for entertainment than education, though kids may find a few history takeaways or a spark of interest in U.S. history.

Ease of Play

Some games are nearly impossible to get full star scores in, making unlocking the next level impossible. Written read-aloud instructions for some games are hard to understand, and no examples are offered.

Violence

Cartoon-like violence representing historical events. Native Americans target-shoot. Boston Tea Partiers throw tea off boat but get bonus points for hitting a Red Coat. Two men get hit by a train if they don't move fast enough.

Sex
Language
Consumerism

Start page includes a logo ad for another app.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Frontier Heroes walks kids through U.S. history, from the Native Americans to the colonies and Revolution and through the Gold Rush. The final time period, Land of the Free, requires a perfect score on every other mini-game to unlock -- which is pretty much impossible. There are no demos or examples of how to play the games, but brief instructions are given. For some games, that's enough. Others will require trial and error and multiple replays to figure out. The history is pretty sanitized, though there's minor violence with Davy Crockett fighting a bear and two railroad builders trying to outrun a train (and sometimes failing) and some shooting in some mini-games. As they complete some games, kids unlock DYKs -- short "Did You Know?" historical facts.

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What's it about?

Mini-games replicate skills and events throughout U.S. history, teaching a bit about it through interesting facts as kids play. They'll start in early America and must earn enough stars playing each game to unlock the next level. Each time period includes a short cartoon video about life in that time, and the games show a bit of what life (or legend) was like. Games can be replayed to improve scores to help unlock other levels. Kids can review their DYK collections to review the historical facts they’ve learned.

Is it any good?

The cartoon graphics are impressive and fun, and the historical facts are high-interest and delivered in short, easy-to-remember bits. The voices and sound effects are well-done, too, and most of the games are quite fun. The problem is that some are just too hard -- maybe even impossible -- to master, and mastering them all is required to unlock the last time period. Kids can replay each game as often as necessary to improve scores, and the challenge becomes pretty addictive. Kids may lose interest before getting through all the history, but they'll learn a bit and have fun in the process.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what is realistic in the games (sawing a tree is really hard) and what is not (wrestling a bear).

  • Ask kids which period of U.S. history they find most interesting. If they could live in any time period, which would they choose?

App details

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For kids who love history

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