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

What parents need to know

Educational value

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.

Positive messages
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Positive role models
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Ease of play

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

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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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.

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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?


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
Subjects:Science: momentum, motion, physics
Skills:Emotional Development: developing resilience, handling stress
Thinking & Reasoning: decision-making, prediction, problem solving, strategy
Available online?Available online
Developer:EdGE @ TERC
Release date:January 1, 2012
Topics:Science and nature
ESRB rating:NR

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