Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Half-Shell Heroes

App review by
Patricia Montic..., Common Sense Media
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Half-Shell Heroes App Poster Image
Preschoolers swipe to defeat ninjas, solve simple puzzles.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Although the app's developers claim that kids will hone problem-solving skills, the mini-games and levels mostly just ask kids to swipe at baddies, not think critically. 

Ease of Play

Clear tutorials walk kids through how to play and how to win, and big images without text make navigation especially accessible to preschoolers.

Violence & Scariness

Objective of game to fight bad guys and earn ninja weapons. There's no blood or gore, though, and defeated enemies either fall off screen or meet tame ends, like when Shredder ends up covered in canned cheese.

Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

No in-app purchases, but this game ties in with the larger world of TMNT toys, games, shows, and movies.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Half-Shell Heroes is a multi-level game where kids swipe to defeat bad guys and help the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles defeat their latest enemies. While rival ninjas fall offscreen when they're injured, there's limited cartoon violence, and the big battle outcomes are relatively tame. Though the developers claim this game has baked-in games that promote science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills, the simplistic games don't really demand much critical thinking and don't promote problem-solving skills. Be aware that this is one of many Nickelodeon products related to the much-larger TMNT franchise, so kids who aren't fans yet may get hooked. Read this app's privacy policy to find out about information collected and shared. 

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What's it about?

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: HALF-SHELL HEROES follows kid-size versions of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on a journey to defeat their longtime enemy Shredder and his henchmen, who have invaded the Turtles' home. Between battles with ninjas, there are a few mini-games that require kids to solve simple problems, such as connecting pipes to make water flow. The game has three main sections: Adventure, Dojo, and Goods. In the Adventure section, short snippets of story set up each round of fighting with the bad guys, and the narrator instructs the player on how to swipe strategically. The Dojo section lets kids practice their ninja moves, and the Goods section tracks the special moves and award badges kids earn. There's also a "curriculum" page that parents can view to learn more about the sorts of STEM skills that kids might learn from the built-in mini-games that pop up in the midst of the story. 

Is it any good?

Though the app description promised to help your preschooler develop STEM skills, it's more likely that your child will stay engaged just to swipe endlessly at flying ninjas and water balloons. There are certainly problems to solve in the science-themed mini-games, but the spoken instructions to "use gravity" to fling pizzas at ninjas will likely go over younger kids' heads. Plus, there aren't any real consequences for failing the tasks, so kids can swipe as mindlessly in the learning activities as they do in the game's main action. More importantly, these learning opportunities don't have much bearing on the gameplay: They're just little interludes in the midst of well-animated -- but repetitive -- gameplay. Overall, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Half-Shell Heroes is OK for younger Turtles fans, but look elsewhere for tougher gameplay or richer learning experiences.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Half-Shell Heroes. Here, fighting is cartoonish and does not present any negative consequences. What is it like in real life?

  • Talk about how the gameplay relates to the game's story and to other shows or games you've seen with the Turtles. How does this game fit into their story?

  • Discuss problem-solving with puzzles. What kinds of strategies can you use as you play? How can you plan ahead for your next move?

App details

For kids who love science, technology, engineering, and math

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