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Thomas & Friends: Adventures!
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Thomas & Friends: Adventures! is an educational, free-to-start game based on the popular Thomas & Friends franchise and available for download on iOS and Android devices. Players join Thomas as he visits different locales around the world, learning tidbits of cultural knowledge along the way. The game features a string of informative bits tied together with some simple puzzle solving and other basic gaming elements designed specifically for young kids. Parents should also be aware that, despite being free to download and play, the initial download only includes one stop on Thomas’s route. Parents are expected to pay for each additional country in an episodic fashion, buying new chapters piecemeal or as a package. The game also pushes kids to pay money for additional characters while also serving as an advertisement for the various Thomas & Friends toys and merchandise.
What's it about?
In THOMAS & FRIENDS: ADVENTURES!, players join Thomas the Tank Engine and his locomotive friends as they travel around the globe on a world tour of information, learning bits of cultural knowledge and trivia at every stop. Along the way, kids will learn to listen to and follow directions, work on their problem-solving skills through a series of fun puzzles, and even tap into their own creativity as they build winding tracks for Thomas and his friends to travel on. Players can even take their favorite Thomas & Friends characters out for a scenic ride in friendly races through the countryside, spotting all the famous landmarks in each country as they roll down the tracks. So grab your ticket and climb aboard for a train ride unlike any you’ve had before.
Is it any good?
Sometimes a game that seems to start with all the best intentions can wind up getting way off track. At least, that’s the case with Thomas & Friends: Adventures!, the latest “edutainment” app to bring the carefree locomotive to mobile devices. The game uses an interesting blend of video clips and simple puzzles to take kids on a worldwide trip of adventure, dishing out interesting facts and short glimpses into each stop’s unique culture and landmarks. There’s never any real challenge to the light gameplay elements, which helps to hold the younger audience’s attention and gives them a sense of accomplishment for a job well done. It’s a great concept that, unfortunately, gets derailed before it even gets a chance to pull out of the station.
While Thomas & Friends: Adventures! starts off well enough, before it can build any steam behind it, the game runs smack into a massive wall … a pay wall, to be precise. For a game that touts global adventures, the initial download only comes with one location. And considering just how short each area is, it comes across as more of a demo than anything else. To access any other locations and activities, parents need to shell out an addition charge for each, either à la carte or as a package, both of which add a substantial amount to the game’s price. Also, kids are encouraged to pick up some of the other characters in the game, which also requires parents to pay for each one. And all the while, the game is serving as an advertisement for Mattel’s line of Thomas & Friends toys and merchandise. This derails most of the educational benefits of the game, as it winds up feeling more like an interactive informercial than it does a truly educational experience.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about consumerism in games. What are some of the ways games are used to advertise and otherwise promote other products? What are some of the ways that “free” games can wind up costing more than expected?
What are the benefits of learning more about world history and culture? What are some other countries you would visit if given the chance?
- Devices: iPhone, iPad, Android
- Subjects: Social Studies: cultural understanding
- Skills: Creativity: imagination
- Pricing structure: Free
- Release date: March 18, 2019
- Category: Educational Games
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Trains
- Size: 318.80 MB
- Publisher: Mattel, Inc.
- Version: 1.1.2
- Minimum software requirements: Requires iOS 8.0 or higher; Android 4.1 and up
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