Puzzle Planets

App review by
Jonathan H. Liu, Common Sense Media
Puzzle Planets App Poster Image
Not much science in fun but repetitive Nat Geo app.

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A lot or a little?

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

Ease of Play

The first level is a tutorial that walks the player through the controls. The controls are mostly easy to master.

Violence

A humanoid creature on one of the planets is described as having "gladiatorial battles" and "brutally killing" its enemies. It is pictured holding a spear and with a sword and helmet. The actual gameplay does not depict the creature at all.

Sex

One humanoid creature is a sea-dwelling blue-skinned female wearing bikini-like clothing in one of her forms. There is only one image of her in this outfit.

Language
Consumerism

On the settings page there is a "Learn More" link that goes to the National Geographic Channel's page about geological exploration.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Puzzle Planets is a science-based puzzle game about forming planets and initiating life. The game teaches very rudimentary ideas about tectonics and geological formation but is not otherwise educational. There are some creatures pictured in the planet profiles that have weapons and another wearing a bikini, but these are static images and not part of the actual gameplay. Scores can be optionally posted to Facebook, which requires logging in.

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Is it any good?

PUZZLE PLANETS is a game from National Geographic about forming planets: first the tectonic plates are put together; then mountains, rifts, and volcanoes are formed; and finally the continents are seeded with life. Each of the 15 planets plays out in these three phases, with the player spinning the planet to match up tectonic plates, pinching and spreading areas to create continents, and then spinning again to create life. The planet's profile screen will show an imaginary creature in one of three evolutionary stages depending on how quickly the planet was successfully completed.

The gameplay is sort of fun but repetitive; after a few planets the only value in playing again is to improve times to see all three stages of all the creatures. However, with only 15 planets the entire game can be played in about an hour or so. Also, although the game does follow the stages of geological planet formation, there is very little science other than that basic idea.

App details

For kids who love puzzles and outer space

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