Star Wars - Heroes Path

App review by
Lisa Caplan, Common Sense Media
Star Wars - Heroes Path App Poster Image
Turn-based strategy game teases brain; could drain wallet.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn strategic thinking; practice exercising logic to plan ahead and solve puzzles; and learn to solve problems in multiple ways. During the cut scenes, they can also read the story. Though a lack of hints will hinder kids' learning because they won't know specific objectives, approaching the same puzzle with different goals encourages flexible thinking, so Star Wars - Heroes Path does have learning potential -- at least, so long as the in-app purchases last.

Ease of Play

Easy to learn and provides visual instructions as new skills and obstacles are introduced.

Violence & Scariness

Storm troopers do shoot to kill, but there is no blood or gore -- momentary flash, and then the screen fades out.

Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

The game is regularly $3.99 to purchase although it's currently available for free. There are also ads and lots of opportunities for in-app purchases. Game is linked to Star Wars franchise.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Star Wars - Heroes Path is more like a digital board game than a video game. Based on the first movie in the series -- Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope -- kids take on the computer in a turn-based strategy game in which they avoid enemies to reach certain goals, outlined by Yoda. Though the bad guys can shoot laser guns, there is no blood or death; characters simply disappear when that round ends. Whether you download the game while it's free or pay the usual $3.99, you're still likely to spend money to unlock chapters and characters and buy hints and special powers. Disney's privacy policy is all-encompassing and doesn't specifically address this app, but it details the types of information they collect and share.

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What's it about?

Players uncover the plot of Star Wars Chapter IV: A New Hope retold in comic-book-style cut scenes in STAR WARS - HEROES PATH as they make their way through the game levels. Players move through six environments, alternating turns on a game board with storm troopers and other enemies. Playing as various characters from the movie, kids move toward the level's end goal, pick up items, and avoid enemies who can shoot them. The game awards up to three stars per level based on Yoda's criteria -- Reach the Goal, Defeat All Enemies, Don't Skip a Turn, and the like. Kids need to earn a set number of stars -- not simply finish every level -- to unlock successive chapters, but they can try as many times as necessary. As levels progress, they involve contraptions such as gates and trapdoors, increasing the challenge. Yoda also gives hints, and each character has a special ability, but you only get five hints for free and limited power: If you want more, you have to pay for it. The chapters involving Han Solo and Obi-Wan are available for purchase, but kids can't earn them. 

Is it any good?

Stellar graphics and clever strategy gaming make this game appealing, but the endless pushes for the user to spend real money get old quickly. The controls are as simple as the rules, but there's still enough variation between the puzzles to keep players engaged, and the challenge increases as levels progress. Because the objectives for each level sometimes conflict, kids will have to try out several strategies to get all three stars. The biggest frustration, however, is the need for hints and special powers: If the goals were attainable without them, the purchases would be optional. As it is, a kid can't know the objectives without having hints available, and hints cost money even in the paid version. If parents won't pay $10 for unlimited hints, kids are bound to get frustrated. If the paid title had fewer in-app purchases, it would be much easier to love it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about being a savvy consumer. What, if any, in-app purchases are fair, and which are simply cash grabs with no added value? What are your rules about in-app purchases?

  • Talk about the idea of branding and franchise. Why do companies make so many products with a Star Wars theme?

App details

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