I have a 10-year-old nephew. He's awesome. For the sake of anonymity, let's just call him "Z." Like all 21st century hatchlings, Z owns an iPhone 6 Plus and has a plethora of games on his monstrous device. Whenever Z isn't swamped texting his friends pictures of animal butts and burning up precious data streaming Maroon 5 songs, he's enveloped in his arsenal of apps and games.
So I asked Z to describe each one in his own words—aww, Z's cute—and then out of curiosity I played all eight, and rated each appropriately. Indeed, it was one hell of a Thanksgiving afternoon at the Glass household. Lots of turkey, followed by general fear and malaise of Earth's underage gaming population. Ugh! Holidays, right?
iTunes Description: "Meet Boo, your new virtual pet! Boo is waiting for you to pet, dress, feed, teach, clean and take care of him! Look after your adorable little Boo and play 16 exciting mini games! All for free!"
Z's Description: "It's a virtual pet!"
My Assessment: My Boo is 2014's answer to the Tamagotchi, except way more difficult. I had a Tamagotchi when I was 10, because all the cute girls in my 5th grade class had one and I wanted them to like me. I remember you only had to push one button to feed the thing. I found My Boo extremely difficult to play, as I didn't know how to keep it alive. Z kept trying to help me, but it took me a few tries to realize I had to literally drag food from the screen into its mouth. Anyway, it died.
Overall Rating: C-
iTunes Description: "Enjoy the #1 FREE virtual bakery game! Design the bakery of your dreams and share with your friends! Impress your customers with stunning decorations and mouth-watering sweets!"
Z's Description: "Basically it's your own online bakery."
My Assessment: I had absolutely no f*cking clue what I was doing 100 percent of the time. I assumed this would be a game where you chop food, but it was more like The Sims. I couldn't stop myself from button-mashing on a donut—until my older brother came into the room and told me his credit card would get charged if I bought the donut. It's a terrible game and no one should play it.
Overall Rating: D
iTunes Description: "Beat up your boss with this game! We know how stupid and mean they can be. Stand up for yourself, give them what they deserve. Bazooka right in the face! You can punch, burn, stab, slap, egg them and much more!!"
Z's Description: "You can let all your anger out and kill him to death!"
My Assessment: I was honestly shocked by the violence of this game—and I grew up on Mortal Kombat. The whole idea is that you're supposed to kill this boss with any weapon you've got. What's he a boss of? Who knows. Does he fight back? No. You can pick from four bosses—one of which is named Rosenberg—and kill them with an array of objects: guns, knives, fruit, darts, etc. My nephew's favorite method of murder is the ninja star. At least your opponents fought back in Mortal Kombat, this is just straight-up murder. So kinda fun!
Overall Rating: B-
iTunes Description: "Say Hello to the BIG BALLS! Now you can tackle your favorite Wipeout obstacles on your iPad and iPhone and pull off hilarious Wipeouts anywhere you go! Run, jump and dive through your favorite challenges from the hit TV show."
Z's Description: "Um, I guess this is based on the game show?"
My Assessment: I actually really liked this one—apparently it's based off a TV show of the same name, but I did some digging and found out that the show is really just a ripoff of Japan's Ninja Warrior. You pretty much just make your way through a series of giant bouncy ball obstacles—it was frustrating and addicting in a fun way, like Mario Kart or Temple Run.
Overall Rating: B+
iTunes Description: "Challenge your limits! Your record will upload to Game Center. To be the 1st-killer all around the world.We believe you can do it!Just Fighting!!!"
Z's Description: "I don't know."
My Assessment: Despite the fact that it seems like a child wrote the iTunes description, I eventually figured out that this game is a first-person shooter with some Minecraft thrown in. I'm not trying to be stereotypical, but I feel like this game kills it in South Korea. It's definitely still hard to play and I got bored pretty quickly.
Overall Rating: D
iTunes Description: "Mine, craft weapons, make tools, build, farm and battle. Search for diamonds, discover caves and get lost in a unique world that fits in your pocket. Fight enemies that spawn from the ground. This pocket edition is always changing, growing and moving as you mine, craft and build whatever you desire."
Z's Description: "It's like Minecraft."
My Assessment: I mean, it's right in the description—this is just a ripoff of Minecraft. And, like Minecraft, I found Kidblock just as painfully boring and repetitive. It took me a long time to figure out how to move, let alone mine or craft. I hated every second of this. I'd rather get a vasectomy than play Kidblock.
Overall Rating: F-
iTunes Description: "THIS GAME IS LIFE-RUININGLY FUN! Homer accidentally caused a meltdown that wiped out Springfield. D’OH! Now, it’s up to you to rebuild it! From the writers of The Simpsons, tap into a city building game that lets you create your own living, breathing Springfield... for FREE."
Z's Description: "You've never played Tapped Out? Are you kidding me?!"
My Assessment: Indeed I have never once played Tapped Out. Here are some thoughts: with a lot of modern iPhone games, I've noticed the first-person element of control has completely disappeared. The player, instead, takes on an omniscent God-like role along the lines of The Sims—and Tapped Out follows those guidelines. Sure, everything from The Simpsons was here, but you can't play as Homer. I mean, you kind of just watch people do things...which is, ironically, how you view The Simpsons on TV.
Overall Rating: C+
iTunes Description: "DASH as fast as you can! DODGE the oncoming trains! Help Jake, Tricky & Fresh escape from the grumpy Inspector and his dog."
Z's Description: "It's like Temple Run."
My Assessment: I mean, this game is verbatim Temple Run—except there's a character named "Fresh." The controls are a lot less user-friendly than most iPhone games and the sheer overload of visual stimulation made me slightly nauseated. It was like navigating through a fever dream involving runaway trains...with a dude named Fresh.
Overall Rating: C-