The Foolish King

App review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
The Foolish King App Poster Image
Clever story introduces kids to the game of chess.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids will get a strong introduction to the game of chess, as well as the chance to play themselves. Also, some information about the importance of insects for growing plants, as well as how an ecosystem can be thrown off if it's missing important features.

Ease of Play

Easy to navigate, and the chess game gives hints (upon request) for what moves to make next. Shows new players where certain pieces can move on the board.

Violence & Scariness

Story contains a couple of scenes where the prince gleefully kills insects. He would "laugh as slugs exploded into slimy bits under his feet" and "giggle when he pulled the legs off spiders." He also threatens to have his owl advisor "plucked and roasted and served" for breakfast.

Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Foolish King is a fictional and magical explanation of the origin of the game of chess as well as an introduction to the game. It includes an ebook and a chess game for one or two players with three difficulty levels. Younger kids may not entirely understand that the story isn't true, especially since it implies that it is the "real" history. The story contains some violence by the naughty prince, including killing insects for fun. The ebook, which is nearly 80 pages long, includes explanations of each of the pieces and how they move, with additional hints for how to use each piece in the game. Note that there's no audio option, so kids need to be strong readers to make it through the ebook. Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the types of information collected and shared. 

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What's it about?

THE FOOLISH KING introduces kids to the game of chess through the cautionary tale of the Kingdom of Stur, ill-behaved Prince Parip, and curious Holly and Pip. The Kingdom of Stur was known for its beautiful gardens, including the royal gardens tended by Holly and Pip's father, Mr. Perry, with the help of all the kingdom's insects. But when the king dies, he leaves the kingdom to his spoiled son, Prince Parip. He bans the insects from eating in the gardens, wastes food, and drives his people away with his greed, selfishness, and anger. As the insects leave the kingdom, and the people are no longer there to tend the gardens, the plants begin to die and food becomes scarce. Soon, there's little left but one pear tree, which King Parip threatens to chop down. Holly and Pip know they must save the tree, and when they enter a magical door at its base, they arrive in a hidden world ruled by insects. The insects capture Holly and Pip and will only let them go if they win at their special game. And so Holly and Pip (and their owl friend, Woogle) must learn to play chess and win to save themselves and the Kingdom. The story includes rules for each of the chess pieces as well as some activities to help kids remember the special moves. At the end, kids can play their own game of chess, either against the app or against a friend.

Is it any good?

This is an engaging introduction to the rules of chess paired with a one- or two-player version of the game, but users must be able to read well. The story of The Foolish King is somewhat long, with simply colored artwork and some important messages about the delicate harmony among people, plants, and animals (including insects). It explains chess as a game created by the insects and based on the moves that different insects make. While the connection is a bit of a stretch, it may help kids more easily remember the moves for each piece, as well as some basic strategy. The chess game itself, which has three difficulty levels, will provide hints for where pieces can move as well as hints for where you should move your pieces. Without any deeper explanation of the hints, it's not terribly useful as a learning tool, but it's helpful for kids who aren't sure what to do next. The story also has some gameplay strategy, such as holding certain pieces for later in the game, but it would be helpful to have a bit more guidance for new players. It also would be great to have the option to listen to the story, since some interested kids might stop short at all the reading. Other than that, this is a nice way to get kids engaged in chess, especially if they have a more knowledgeable friend or family member to fill in some of the blanks.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how much kids learned. Do you think The Foolish King is a good app for learning? Why, or why not? Did you learn more about the game of chess? What else did you learn?

  • How do you like this app as compared to other apps you could play? If you had or have limited screen time, would you pick this app over other apps on your device? Why, or why not?

  • Challenge kids to make up origin stories for other games. How did checkers start? What about Go Fish?

App details

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For kids who love board games and strategy

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