Outernauts

Common Sense Media says

Good monster-collecting game could eat up lots of your cash.

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

The game offers plenty of incentives to help out friends, including sharing your treasure, building items for them, sending gifts, and inviting them to visit your homeworld, etc. There's also the unfortunate message that spending money will make life (and the game) a whole lot easier.

Positive role models

Outernauts capture wild creatures and use them to do battle against other monsters, but they also care for the creatures they adopt. The storyline contains a not-too-subtle message about pollution ruining environments and endangering animals.

Ease of play

There's a lot to learn, but it's all explained incredibly well. Few tutorial systems have ever been this clear and precise.

Violence

As in Pokemon, when these creatures battle, you never really see them hit each other. They snarl, bark, and jump, but it's usually only swooping colors and flashes of light that you see over the enemies. It's more about the symbolic representation of the attack, which have names like "wing slap," "sting," and "bite."

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

The game is free to play, and you can earn plenty of free in-game coins to spend on items and upgrades; but if you want to do more than just dabble in Outernauts, you'll end up spending real cash -- anywhere from $5 to hundreds. There are two in-game currencies -- coins and gems. The coins you can earn, but the gems can only be purchased with real money. And there are important items that can only be bought with gems.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

Some privacy concerns: Certain missions can only be completed (or can be completed much faster) with the help of other players. This could entice children to "friend" strangers on Facebook. However, there is no open chat in the game.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Outernauts is Facebook game about collecting Pokemon-like space monsters and having them do battle with one another. The game is colorful and cartoony and would appeal to kids as young as eight -- however, Facebook is age-gated for users thirteen and over. While free to play, the game has a tricky currency system, requiring users to spend real money on "gems" in order to upgrade their game experience and truly progress through the storyline. In addition, the game offers lots of benefits to players who cooperate with friends. While the teamwork aspect presents a good message, it may also encourage kids to befriend strangers on Facebook, just so they have more people to play with.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Math

  • money

Hobbies

  • collecting

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • strategy

Collaboration

  • cooperation
  • group projects
  • meeting challenges together

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Learning Approach

Support

What kids can learn

Subjects

Math

  • money

Hobbies

  • collecting

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • strategy

Collaboration

  • cooperation
  • group projects
  • meeting challenges together

Kids can learn some strategic thinking skills as they compare and contrast the skills of their various creatures and figure out which would work best against specific opponents. They also learn how to sort and allot resources they find in order to build the items they want or concoct the potions they need. Kids playing Outernauts on Facebook can hone their strategy skills but may also get an unexpected lesson in fiscal responsibility if they start spending their real money to improve their game.

This Learning Rating review was written by Christopher Healy

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What's it about?

OUTERNAUTS owes a lot to Pokemon in terms of its gameplay mechanics. As a member of an interplanetary monster-collecting organization, you'll hop through space systems capturing creatures for your team and training them to battle other odd monsters. As the creatures go up in level, they evolve physically, going from cute cuddly critters to large scary beasts. There's also a sim aspect to the game, in that you can buy items to decorate your homeworld before inviting Facebook friends over for a visit.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The developers of Outernauts put a lot into the game. There are a surprising number of planets to explore and creatures to collect, as well as a slew of helpful items to buy-- or to build in your own lab-- and an entire homeworld to creatively customize. The battle system is nicely detailed; it's easy to learn but still requires a lot of strategy. But it's hard not to get frustrated by some of the sneaky ways the game gets you to spend real money. You can earn tons of coins in the game and think to yourself, "This is great! I can upgrade!" But so many of the truly important items can't be purchased with coins. To buy new creature slots, allowing you to own more than three monsters, you need to spend gems. To buy new power slots, allowing your creatures to have more than four attacks, you need to spend gems. To give your creature a health boost during a battle... you get the picture. But there's no way to earn gems in the game. You can only buy them with real cash. For anywhere from $5 to $100 a bunch.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about fiscal responsibility. Spending real cash will undoubtedly help kids excel at Outernauts, but is that what they really want to spend their money on? And is it really their money to spend?

  • Talk to children about online safety as well. Make sure they know about the possible pitfalls of befriending strangers online.

Game details

Platforms:Facebook
Price:Free
Pricing structure:Free
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Insomniac Games
Release date:July 24, 2012
Genre:Action/Adventure
ESRB rating:NR for (Facebook)

This review of Outernauts was written by

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.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

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

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