Nicki Minaj: The Empire

App review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
Nicki Minaj: The Empire App Poster Image
Sim with substance worthy of rap diva; pressure to spend.

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Created for entertainment and not intended for learning.

Ease of Play

Kids will have no trouble navigating this experience.

Violence

Lots of trash-talking and an enemy who is constantly plotting to ruin your rap career. 

Sex

There are references to dating and having crushes. Characters wear revealing clothing with lots of cleavage.

Language

Characters use a lot of verbal attacks but not stereotypes or slurs. While there is little to no use of profanity in the game script, expect to see it in chat and in user-generated lyrics and bios. 

Consumerism

Some focus on materialism. You are expected to buy new clothing and hair styles along the way to meet a "style" requirement that gives bonuses for each task. Expect pressure for in-app purchases, either for the coolest clothes (which require a premium in-game currency) or for energy to complete tasks more quickly. Ads (full-screen) are prevalent but can be removed with any purchase.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Activities often take place in locations with bars. There are alcohol-related tasks that can't be avoided (i.e., "Drink Champagne").

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Nicki Minaj: The Empire is similar in style to Kim Kardashian: Hollywood but with a more positive message and some additional substance. The game is set in the New York City rap scene, so there is plenty of trash-talking, shallow behavior, backstabbing, and skimpy clothing. And, yet, Nicki is a positive force, encouraging players to follow their dream and be true to themselves. She also emphasizes friendship and loyalty. Players are given choices when responding to other characters and so it's up to them to decide whether to be snarky or kind, hostile or friendly, but there seems to be little difference no matter which route you take. An in-game social media platform lets players meet in (unmoderated) chat rooms and "friend" other players to gain "likes" on their songs. They can also write and record rap songs using canned choices or their own words as well as access songs written by other players with what is basically unmoderated content. Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the types of information collected and shared.

User Reviews

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What's it about?

A chance meeting with Nicki Minaj launches you into a new friendship and a burgeoning rap career in NICKI MINAJ: THE EMPIRE. Now you'll spend your time shuttling between Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan as you juggle rap battles, recording sessions, VIP parties, photo shoots, lunch with Nicki, and meetings with your producer. All the while, you need to keep writing new lyrics, upgrading your wardrobe to keep up with the changing styles, outfitting your apartment, and still staying true to your friends. A visit to Beatbook, the in-game social media experience, gives you the opportunity to connect with other players in an open chat, as well as make new in-game friends. If you're lucky, they'll "like" your music and give you a boost on your record sales. You may also want to record some of your raps and submit them for a chance to be heard by Nicki Minaj herself. Each Quest requires you to complete a certain number of tasks within an allotted period of time, so you'll need to budget your energy levels to earn five stars. A five-star Quest may earn you record sales and new fans, while a two-star Quest might drop your ratings. Beware your enemies, though. They're always out to steal your thunder and take credit for your hard work.

Is it any good?

Despite some mindless tasks and the pressure to use in-app purchases, this rap-mogul simulation is addictive and fun and offers opportunities for creativity. Nicki Minaj: The Empire does what Kim Kardashian: Hollywood failed to do: provide an interesting and substantive simulation of rising in a difficult industry. Is it realistic? Not really. But the story makes some sense and you have more to worry about than your appearance (although style does count!). The addition of the Beatbook social network experience makes it less kid-friendly but adds a social dimension that teens will appreciate. But perhaps the best aspect is being encouraged to write and record your own rap songs. It makes you feel more connected to the game experience. Though there's still a lot of sitting around waiting to get enough energy for the next Quest and not a lot of decisions to be made within Quests themselves, most kids won't mind this at all. They'll be busy practicing their rapping skills so they can try to catch the eye (and ear) of Nicki Minaj.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the rap-artist lifestyle as depicted in Nicki Minaj: The Empire. Does this seem like an accurate depiction? How do you think it might be different in real life?

  • Discuss your family's rules about in-app purchases. If you give your tween or teen a virtual allowance, are you OK with them spending it on any in-app purchase, or are there guidelines?

  • Think about the persona of the main character in the app. How are you like the character you play? How are you different? Are there things you admire or dislike about the character?

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