Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Spring 2012 Games
Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: Hasbro, Inc.
Price: $24.99

There are few games that have ever entertained our entire family for more than 20 minutes, let alone an hour on more than one occasion until now. In a truly remarkable occurrence, my two sons, ages 3 1/2 and 7, not only both thoroughly enjoyed playing Life Zapped, but have continued to play it almost daily since we first opened the box.

In this updated version of the game of Life, Hasbro has integrated iPad technology with the classic game board, which is included here. When you first use the game, you download a free Life app from the iTunes store. Place the iPad in the center of the game board and start a new game. Each player still uses a plastic car and peg person for their playing piece, but their peg player also has an on-screen personality. After customizing the digital pegs, game play begins. Players must first choose to go to college or follow a career path. The app prompts the player to select their path and explains each choice. Once the path is chosen, players use the digital spinner and move the selected number of spaces. There are a variety of special spaces that require players to interact with the app mixed in with traditional spaces that either give or take away money. The interactive spaces include payday, where players play memory games to earn bonuses to their paycheck; stops where life events such as graduation or marriages occur, lawsuits where players can sue other players and spaces where players collect special tokens whose cash value is revealed at the end of the game. One of the features that make this so fun for kids (and adults) are the choices available when a life event occurs. For example, players can choose their careers from three randomly selected options and then choose an accessory for their digital peg to go with it. A rock star might select an electric guitar or a microphone. Additionally, Hasbro has incorporated video clips from America's Funniest Home Videos which play on most of the interactive spaces.

Although I was skeptical about the integration of the iPad technology with the game board at first, it proved to be a winning combination with all of our testers. It kept everyone engaged in the game and certainly upped the entertainment factor. The game suggests this for ages 8 and up, but we found great success with our players as young as 3 making this a very family friendly recommendation. The only item the adult testers were disappointed with was the unrealistic salaries offered for the careers and the fact that in each game played, the players with the most education were always in last place. Babies are also worth additional money at the end of the game. Thus, all of the young testers were left with the impression that more education meant less money and more babies meant more money. It would be an easy adjustment for Hasbro to correct this logic as it pertains to higher education; something that would improve the overall educational value of the game.

Jessica Hensley   ©2012 Parents' Choice
Jessica Hensley is a web designer, yoga and fitness enthusiast and proud mother of two very active young boys. She has been working with family and educational websites for over 12 years.

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Hasbro, Inc.

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