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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this app.
Kids can learn about completing tasks, working toward goals, and being thorough. The app provides some reading experience, as well, and kids will follow instructions. Earning and spending currency offers a small amount of addition, subtraction, and money management experience. Kids don't perform varied tasks, so they don't really get a chance to do much strategizing or use logic. They don't learn any historical facts, but the app may spark an interest in learning more about the past, archeology, and possibly the ocean.
Ease of Play
In addition to a map that indicates what players have completed and need to do next, they're given written instructions as the experience advances. There isn't an FAQ or other resource to check if they have questions, though.
Products & Purchases
Players will see occasional ads. When their playing time runs out, they can use gems to continue. They may need to buy extra gems for $0.99-$39.99, unless they've earned enough gems, which is hard to do.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mystery Coast: Treasure Hunt is an interactive adventure app for iOS devices. The game is free to use, but the app limits the amount of time gamers can play it unless they buy gems or watch an ad. The kid-friendly content includes brief videos with actors portraying characters who offer information. Instructions are provided to walk players through each new aspect of the experience, making it easy to follow. They don't get to do too much -- kids spend a lot of time cleaning items from dives -- but they have to do it well to continue playing, and it could spark an interest in archeology or the ocean.
Is It Any Good?
This app's premise, which involves kids going on an archeological sea journey, is promising, but its repetition and slow progression hinders its enjoyability. The visual quality of Mystery Coast: Treasure Hunt is impressive. Kids will see periodic live action scenes featuring characters who provide instructions and an ongoing narrative. There's also some interactivity when mud dramatically splashes off a helmet, bird figurine, or other items to reveal their original grandeur as you clean them by swiping your finger on the screen. Players can swivel the items to scrub all sides, and a meter shows how clean an object is, marking kids' progress and encouraging them to be thorough.
Unfortunately, the interactive elements are fairly repetitive. Aside from watching occasional videos, kids basically just clean a succession of objects, using the same motions, which are boring. The items also aren't always unique. Kids may clean the same item repeatedly, making the work time consuming, unless kids earn enough gems to purchase a wider brush (and earning gems can take some time). After restoring some items, players will need to sell at least one to make room for more, but this is a simplistic process. You earn coins, which can't be spent on anything, and these are earned at a faster rate than gems, which are much more useful. Why this happens is never explained. Worse, the app will eventually run out of time, and kids then have to wait, watch an ad, or use gems -- they'll likely need to buy more to have enough -- to continue, which slows the pace down further. Between those delays and the slow overall progression speed, kids may not be all that eager to keep continuing the game. They don't, after all, get to participate in or even see the actual dives that are conducted to find items; they just get to clean them. The app may be called Mystery Coast: Treasure Hunt, but kids who play it will end up doing more tidying up, though, than actual treasuring hunting.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.