Santa's Christmas Village

App review by
Christopher Healy, Common Sense Media
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17 great age-spanning games make this app feel like a gift.

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A lot or a little?

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

Ease of Play

The central hub of the app is quite easy to navigate. The games themselves pose varying levels of challenge, but the controls work well in all.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Santa's Christmas Village now offers 17 games in one app, and that all of the games are appropriate for kids. Classic games, like hangman, are even given a more family-friendly theme, by turning the poor death row inmate about to meet his doom into a snowman that is melting, not being hung. Minesweeper is transformed to be about checking gift boxes for an ugly sweater, not a bomb. Checkers uses cookies or ornaments, and reindeer appear in a memory match game. There are also a few openly educational math and spelling games. There's even a "bear piano" on which kids can plunk out their favorite carols. And the popular sudoku puzzles have also joined the group in this latest update. Not all of the 17 games will be for everyone, though, as some are geared toward younger kids and some toward older kids or adults. All are definitely family-friendly.

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Is it any good?

When you see that SANTA'S CHRISTMAS VILLAGE offers 17 games in one, you may assume that it's one of those quickie apps that toss a bunch of crummy low-budget games into one package to make them look better. But believe us, it's not. All of these classic app games -- including connect-four, hangman, memory match, mah-jongg, sudoku, solitaire, Simon Says, and so on -- are presented in fun, lively, seasonally appropriate ways. Game pieces become holiday ornaments, bells, reindeer, or Christmas cookies. And the whole array is presented within a whimsical North Pole hub world. Simply tap on any of the 17 buildings to play a game. The educational games, featuring math, spelling, and geography are a nice addition, too. To get all of these well-made, thoughtfully-designed app games in one economically priced package feels like a true holiday gift. And since the developer added two new games for free this season, it stands to reasont that they may add more free games in years to come.

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For kids who love holidays

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