Impulse

Common Sense Media says

Fine physics puzzler doesn't stand out in crowded genre.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable
Positive role models
Not applicable
Ease of play

Easy to start but hard to finish. The game scales quickly and can be frustrating for younger players. 

Violence
Not applicable
Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

Data is collected for research purposes, but no personally identifiable information is requested. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Impulse is a very kid-friendly puzzle game with a low barrier to entry, and it provides an intuitive -- but not explicitly instructional -- introduction to the physics of mass, velocity, and trajectory. It was designed by researchers and meant to cover Newton's laws of motion. It's tough gameplay, however, and since it lacks help or a player community, kids may get discouraged.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Science

  • momentum
  • motion
  • physics

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • decision-making
  • prediction
  • problem solving
  • strategy

Emotional Development

  • developing resilience
  • handling stress

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

This game is fun at first and has an appealing style. But difficulty scales quickly, and the touchy interface makes repeated failures feel like bad design rather than poor play.

Learning Approach

Newton's laws are clearly the root of this game. Players will get a feel for force and motion, but learning doesn't seem to increase with more gameplay; the game doesn't adapt to the player. 

Support

There's an exceptional guide for the first few levels, and the interface and UI are easy to master. Beyond this, however, there are no teacher supports or relevant measures of success.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Science

  • momentum
  • motion
  • physics

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • decision-making
  • prediction
  • problem solving
  • strategy

Emotional Development

  • developing resilience
  • handling stress

The physics engine seems fairly accurate, and kids should get a sense of mass, velocity, and motion. However, the more noticeable learning focuses on personal character: grit, perseverance, and the ability to overcome obstacles. Since the difficulty ramps up so quickly, kids will find themselves pushing a ball through 20 moving targets. As a result, success is less dependent on physics knowledge than on strategy, patience, and persistence. Though there's some physics to be learned, the larger struggle is how to stay level-headed in the face of challenges.

This Learning Rating review was written by Seann Dikkers

User reviews

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's it about?

IMPULSE is a non-narrative puzzle game with one assignment: use force to push your green ball to a glowing light while avoiding rolling red enemy balls.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The game has simple mechanics and is easy to play, allowing kids to experience some of the foundations of physics and motion without the kind of baggage that's explicitly geared toward learning. Still, comparable games model the same kinds of physics concepts with more polish. Given the lack of elegant level progression, support, and a variety of experiences, kids will tend to disengage.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Newton's laws of motion in relation to Impulse's mechanics. Ask your kids how playing the game helps them get a feel for these laws. For example, are there places in the real world that don't work so neatly? 

  • Challenge kids to set up a version of Impulse on the floor. Use marbles, bouncy balls, and other objects to design challenges. What might be used as the "impulse" in real life? What changes if the floor isn't level or has bumps?  

Game details

Platforms:Mac, Windows, iPhone, iPod
Available online?Not available online
Developer:EdGE @ TERC
Release date:January 1, 2012
Genre:Educational
Topics:Science and nature

This review of Impulse was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

Write a user reviewThere aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass