View-Master Discovery Underwater

App review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
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Immersive underwater view is gorgeous; not cohesive overall.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn a bit about ocean creatures and their habitats, and the experience might get them interested in learning more.

Ease of Play

Kids may need some help starting out, especially for those who are using Google Cardboard rather then the View-Master device. Directions say to "Push down on lever," which simply means to push the button on the Google Cardboard (or tap the screen on the device). The activities are easy enough to follow, but the directions require a lot of reading. Some menu icons aren't clear. 

Violence & Scariness

No violence, but a moment where a shark comes into the enclosure and snaps at you. Paired with the 3D nature of the experience, some kids might find this upsetting.

Sexy Stuff

Purchase of the full version of the game relies only on device parental controls. The main landing page (prior to entering the main menu) has links to other products online.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that View-Master Discovery Underwater is an app that is meant to be used with a View-Master device or Google Cardboard (or similar VR viewer) and a compatible device. It's intended to be downloaded using a code that comes with a View-Master Experience kit. If you don't have one, you'll only be able to access a brief demo without an in-app purchase of $9.99. The content also requires a lot of storage (and download bandwidth). The directions are all written, and there are no prompts if you get stuck, so some kids will need adult help. Because of the immersive nature of virtual reality, users may find the experience much more intense than watching on a traditional screen, and some may experience symptoms of motion sickness. Little kids aren't great candidates for VR for a variety of reasons, including eye development and overall intensity. There's little scary content, but one close encounter with an angry shark may rattle some cages. 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?

Dive down deep with VIEW-MASTER DISCOVERY UNDERWATER to see whales, sharks, fish, and coral. Kids can enjoy four activities. The first is an underwater photo shoot. You can choose to swim with penguins or other fish. As you explore, take pictures of your favorite animals and scenes -- the more you get in a shot, the more points you'll earn. Once your "memory card" (in the game) is full, your score is tallied. You can dive again and again to get a better score. Next up is a treasure hunt. Swim through a sunken ship looking for valuables, searching through trunks, and working your way around a map. Get as much treasure as possible before running out of oxygen. The third experience immerses you in a video diving experience as you watch real divers explore under the sea. When you're done exploring, you can peruse a collection of the sea life you saw along the way, along with facts about them and their way of life.

Is it any good?

Kids will love having the ability to dive under the sea in a 360-degree adventure experience without getting wet. View-Master Discovery Underwater has some beautiful footage for kids to explore and the chance to see some cool sea creatures up close in their habitat. Most likely, kids will enjoy the treasure hunt the most, with the photography experience a distant second. The overall result isn't terribly cohesive, unfortunately, and the replay value is questionable, but listening to the oohs and ahhs as your kids look around may still be worthwhile. After all, kids of yore were happy with the static View-Master reels from their childhoods, so being able to navigate the landscape certainly ups the game. Expect this to be a chart-topper among ocean buffs but more of a one-hit wonder for other kids. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • How do you like View-Master Discover Underwater as compared with 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?

  • What do you think about virtual reality? Do you think you learn more on an app like this? Why, or why not?

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
  • Subjects: Science: animals, ecosystems and the environment
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: investigation
  • Price: Free to try
  • Pricing structure: Free to try (Demo is free, but full version is $9.99 with other add-ons available for an additional cost)
  • Release date: September 20, 2016
  • Category: Simulation Games
  • Topics: Adventures, Ocean Creatures
  • Size: 809.00 MB
  • Publisher: Mattel, Inc.
  • Version: 1.4.1
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 8.1 or later; Android 4.4 and up
  • Last updated: July 14, 2020

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