TheBlu Game Poster Image

TheBlu

(i)

 

Ocean explorer looks great but bores quickly.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids can learn brief but generally interesting facts about ocean animals and plants and visit different ocean habitats. They explore and click on things that interest them; however, that's where interactivity ends. To make matters worse, there's little information to be had, and things within the environment ignore each other. Although the game is free, the in-game purchases can be quite costly and make up a significant portion of the content. There's no question that TheBlu is gorgeous, but it would've been interesting to see how creatures interact within an ecosystem and to integrate more learning, including links to additional content.

Positive messages

By promoting awareness of ocean creatures and environments, TheBlu intends to support the health and care of the oceans and promotes curiosity and exploration.

Positive role models

There are no characters in the game.

Ease of play

There aren't many controls to learn since it's not much more than a screensaver, but it's still not intuitive. Many of the existing functions of the game are buried, and there isn't much in the way of help.

Violence
Not applicable
Sex

Reproductive behaviors of both plants and animals are described, sometimes in great detail.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

The modelers who create each fish are paid for their work through in-game purchases. There are creatures and habitats for sale -- for real money or in exchange for credits earned by recruiting friends through Facebook. The game regularly promotes these sales. A small portion of proceeds from a few of these fish funds ocean conservation.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that TheBlu is an ocean-exploring screensaver and social game wherein kids can learn about many kinds of underwater creatures, plants, and habitats. Each creature kids encounter provides some interesting biological and ecological information, but the constant plea for in-game purchases and Facebook connections are intrusive. There's also not a lot to do other than swim around. Since it's designed as a social experience, kids will see objects during play that are owned by other random players, and each player's city and state is shared. 

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What's it about?

THEBLU was created to educate kids about ocean ecosystems and their inhabitants. Kids explore different ocean zones and click on fish and plants they find there to learn more about them. While kids explore the wider ocean, they also curate their own personal habitat and can add fish to this special zone; these other fish are owned by players and display players' usernames and geographic locations. When the screensaver mode is enabled, kids can watch fish move around their habitats.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

This game isn't so much a game as a screensaver, and it's very basic. There's very little to do beyond observe and read a bit about fish, and many options rely on a Facebook connection. Although the art is high-quality, it's still tough to justify the cost of purchasing more fish. Players can get away without purchasing anything, but the invasive, repeated Facebook requests and reminders about buying new fish are off-putting.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can discuss how to spend digital currency wisely.

  • Families also can discuss the problems facing the ocean and how TheBlu tries to help tackle these problems.

  • Families can explore a local aquarium and try to identify fish and creatures from TheBlu.

Game details

Platforms:Mac, Windows
Subjects:Language & Reading: reading
Science: animals, biology, ecosystems, plants
Hobbies: collecting
Skills:Thinking & Reasoning: investigation
Price:Free with in-game purchases
Pricing structure:Free
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Wemo Media
Release date:February 10, 2012
Genre:Edutainment
Topics:Ocean creatures, Science and nature
ESRB rating:NR

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