I SPY Riddle Race

App review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
I SPY Riddle Race App Poster Image
Familiar and fun seek-and-find game adds timed stress.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn to look for details, an important reading strategy, as they scan unnecessary information -- pictures, in this case -- to find exactly the information they need. They may learn some new vocabulary as they look for items they aren't familiar with, and they may also need to think critically as they decipher the riddles to determine what to look for (though the riddles aren’t tricky at all; they're more like cute rhymes). The race/maze portion of the game isn't much of a challenge, nor is it aligned with the rest of the app, but it's reasonably fun. I SPY Riddle Race doesn't quite live up to the books on which it's based, but for puzzle-loving kids, it does the trick.

Ease of Play

The rules of this game will be familiar to I SPY fans, but verbal instructions are also included. Some of the smaller items are very difficult to find even at the closest zoom, and it can be finicky with where you touch to point to an object. Each game is played in four rounds, and the entire game is timed. There are no hints, so if you get stuck on a round, you have to either exit or keep searching until time runs out.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

The game has a link from the main menu to other apps from the same publisher.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that I SPY Riddle Race is a seek-and-find game for kids. The small size of some of the objects means this app may be best suited for the large screen of an iPad. Each game consists of three scenes and a bonus round. The entire game is timed and takes 10 minutes. You cannot save a game part-way through. Each of the first three rounds has roughly six items to locate, and you must find all the items in a scene before moving to the next round. The fourth round asks you to find as many items as possible before the remaining time runs out and sends you to find one item at a time from any of the three previous scenes. This requires some observation and memory and a whole lot of luck. Once time runs out, you can start a new game.

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What's it about?

Kids first choose to "Play" or "Practice." The play version starts with a maze that a marble moves through, landing on different detailed pictures. They have 10 minutes to search three separate pics for a list of items (provided in riddle form), and then increase their score with a bonus round, finding as many items as possible before time runs out. In the practice version, kids search one picture for the items in the riddle without being timed. Kids can enter their name on a leaderboard when they get high scores.

Is it any good?

I SPY RIDDLE RACE is a timed and somewhat frustrating version of the I SPY series. The puzzles are difficult enough to complete with no available hints, but the timed aspect merely adds to the stress. To make matters worse, the bonus round sends you on a hunt through your previous puzzles (you guess which one) to locate items that are sometimes very difficult to see. In addition, the game doesn't always recognize when you have found a correct object. It's almost as if they simply shrunk the game from a larger screen without recognizing that a kernel of corn might be hard to find/touch on such small real estate. The app was played on an iPod Touch for this review; perhaps the larger screen of an iPad would improve the experience.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about perseverance -- what does it feel like to find that last item in a game of I Spy? How do you push past the frustration? 

  • Play I Spy in real life with whatever happens to be around you; animals, colors, words -- there's always something fun to find in the world.

App details

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