Trucks and Skulls Nitro

App review by
Chris Morris, Common Sense Media
Trucks and Skulls Nitro App Poster Image
Fun, boisterous puzzle game in vein of Angry Birds.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about gravity, momentum, and trajectory as they attempt to destroy skulls. Kids can also use momentum to make objects slam into each other and cause destructive chain reactions -- even more so if they hit a barrel of dynamite. Additionally, they'll get to explore their creative side by making their own levels. Trucks and Skulls Nitro offers a real-world physics lesson in an over-the-top trial-and-error action/puzzle game.

Ease of Play

Trucks and Skulls Nitro HD follows the tried-and-true formula of "easy to learn, hard to master." After giving you a series of very easy levels to conquer, the difficulty ramps up, keeping players engaged.

Violence

Semi tractor-trailers launch themselves off ramps to destroy grinning skulls and shatter wood, glass, metal, and other obstacles. Many levels are also packed with dynamite that creates tremendous onscreen explosions. When defeated, skulls disappear in an elaborate puff of smoke.

Sex
Language

The opening series of levels in the game are called "Hell's Highway."

Consumerism

Banner ads appear on virtually every menu screen and players can buy gold via in-app purchase to upgrade their trucks or unlock new ones.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Trucks and Skulls Nitro is a physics-based puzzle game that's based heavily on the formula that worked so well in Angry Birds. Kids fling trucks into the air in an attempt to destroy skulls and cause as much collateral damage as possible. It's a simple premise, but the game gets more and more complex as players advance. With well over 200 levels to figure out, the app offers plenty of value for any price. (That it's free is an added bonus.) Each truck has its own "personality" but all of them are loud and boisterous, and the game's background music has a heavy metal influence to it, though there are no lyrics for parents to worry about. It might sound inappropriate when laid out like that, but there's a cartoon vibe to the game that keeps it fairly light-hearted and comedic. Players can share high scores via the Game Center social network, but participation is optional. An iPad-only HD version is also available.

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What's it about?

Kids drag and tap their finger on the screen to aim and launch trucks off a ramp to collapse -- and destroy -- structures and eliminate the skulls hidden within. By watching how the trucks move in flight, players can learn a bit about gravity and momentum. Players can retry levels as many times as necessary -- and can even build their own in the mapmaker. This is done by dragging objects on screen from a collection of items and choosing which trucks can be used. Players can share these maps with friends or the developer via email.

Is it any good?

It would be easy to write off Trucks and Skulls HD as a clone of Angry Birds, but that would be doing this app a disservice. While the physics-based puzzles are in the same vein -- an enemy hides under wood, stone, and other obstacles that you destroy by flinging objects -- there's just enough of a difference that it remains enjoyable. The game is, quite simply, fun. Beating the puzzles gives players a rush, while losing only makes them want to try again (rather than frustrating them). The addition of a level creator is a nice touch that encourages creativity, but sharing the levels you create is a slightly difficult process. (You have to email them to friends, who then must upload them into the game.)

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Encourage kids to create their own levels. Play the levels, and then talk about what works well and what could be done differently.

  • Allow kids to check out other apps that use concepts of physics similarly. Our list of Apps for Angry Birds Lovers is a great place to start.

App details

For kids who love puzzles

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