Jenga

Common Sense Media says

Tower-toppling app is nearly as fun as the board game.

Age

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Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Ease of play

The game makes a surprisingly natural transition to the iOS, giving users a variety of ways to get blocks out of the stack.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

A link from the main menu takes users to a page with more games from the developer.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

Notable privacy concerns. The game lets players compete against friends and strangers -- and children can send messages to and receive them from these opponents. Competitive play against Facebook and Game Center friends also is possible. There is no way to disable online play. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Jenga is a faithful recreation of the popular family-friendly tower-building game. Using a realistic physics engine, you'll see your tower wobble and lean as you remove puzzle pieces and stack them higher. The blocks react like the ones in the real-world version, which is an incredible feat. Designed in consultation with Leslie Scott, the original creator of Jenga, the game includes several modes, including the classic regular game, a pass-and-play mode for more than one person, and a new "arcade" mode, which adds a time element. Kids will appreciate the app's forgiving nature, whereas shaky hands in a real-world version can end a game prematurely. Online play is a part of the game, though, and includes the ability to play and chat with strangers -- and there is no method to disable this. There's a separate HD iPad version of the game called Jenga HD, which is a bit easier given the extra screen size, but iPhone players can get the same experience in Jenga.

What kids can learn

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • strategy

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Jenga is an incredibly fun real-world party game, but the digital version does a good job at recreating the fun. The tension that comes with removing a block isn't as intense, but it's certainly still there. 

Learning Approach

Players will have to think carefully about each block they want to remove. Pulling the wrong one can prematurely end the game -- but the right strategy can speed your victory. 

Support

The game has a good tutorial. 

What kids can learn

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • strategy

Kids can learn the importance of thinking ahead, as just pulling out blocks randomly often leads to defeat. Players will need to think about the long game, just as they would in chess. Kids will learn through trial and error -- determining the best move with the remaining pieces. (Should they take out a center block or the two side ones, for instance?) Jenga encourages kids to think ahead, and they'll also get a rudimentary lesson on physics and gravity -- as unsteady towers collapse under their own weight.

This Learning Rating review was written by Chris Morris

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What's it about?

Much as with the board game, players must remove blocks from a stack and replace them on top. Although shaky hands aren't an issue here, players still must carefully choose their moves. Select a block by tapping it, and then carefully remove it from the stack by swiping it out -- something that often takes several swipes. The block will automatically hover above the tower and then drop on top when tapped again. Pick the wrong block or pull too forcefully and you'll knock the tower down -- and lose the game.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

JENGA doesn't seem to be a natural fit for an app, but NaturalMotion does a terrific job of building an electronic version of this classic -- thanks in large part to its terrific physics engine, which causes the blocks to react as they would in the real world. Is it more fun than the game you play with friends around a table? No. But it's as close as you can come. The pass-and-play mode is the best mode -- since playing Jenga alone isn't a fulfilling experience. And the new arcade mode, with colors and a timer, is a great spin on the single-player game that makes it fun to play when you're alone. It's nice to be able to play with friends who aren't in the immediate room, but there are some safety concerns there. Still, at its core, this is a terrific game.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the importance of strategy. A game such as chess is a great way to practice.

  • Play the real-world version of Jenga to compare and contrast the experiences.

  • Build a tower out of household objects to demonstrate the need for a solid base.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
Price:$2.99
Release date:December 9, 2010
Category:Board Games
Publisher:NaturalMotion Games Ltd.
Version:1.1
Minimum software requirements:iOS 3.2 or later

This review of Jenga was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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