App Review: 'Cows vs Aliens'

Filed under: Apps

Ryan Anson, AFP/Getty Images

Rated ON for Ages 8 and Up

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that in "Cows vs Aliens," your goal is to herd cows into a barn and keep aliens out. In the process cows and aliens can be pushed off the cliff (and off screen). The game has a curious control scheme; the instructions aren't very helpful but the controls can be picked up easily nevertheless. High scores are tracked on Game Center, but this is optional and no personally identifiable information is automatically shared.

The good stuff

  • Ease of play: Mastering the controls will require understanding where to push so that the cows and aliens will move away from that spot, which can be tricky at first, but players will learn to use multiple fingers to corral the cows into the barn. The "how to play" screens aren't very helpful at all, but the game becomes more intuitive as you play. Also, after a game is over the cow on the screen will occasionally offer gameplay tips -- some of these would have been helpful in the "how to play" section.
  • Educational value: Meant to entertain rather than educate.

What to watch out for

  • Violence: The player tries to keep the aliens from getting into the barn by pushing them away and off the cliff, which causes them to scream as they fall away. Cows can also be pushed off the cliff, and they moo as they fall.
  • Sex: Not an issue.
  • Consumerism: There is a button on the main menu for more games from the developer, with links to the App Store for purchasing.
  • Drinking, drugs, and smoking: Not an issue.

How safe is it?

  • Personal privacy: Minor privacy concerns. Players can opt in to Apple's Game Center to track achievements, and for some games, challenge friends. With Game Center, players can send and receive friend requests using an email address or Game Center nickname. Requesting or accepting a friend via email will reveal the first and last name associated with each party's Apple ID and the sender's email address.
Is It Any Good?

"Cows vs Aliens" is a funny arcade game -- cows and aliens enter from the bottom of the screen and move toward the open barn at the top -- but the cows meander, and the aliens move a little more intentionally. The controls are simple but somewhat tricky: Wherever you push, a blue circle appears and pushes cows and aliens away from it. By using up to five fingers (or up to 11 on the iPad), you (and a helper) can corral cows and separate out the aliens, shoving the them off the cliff. The game ends if you run out of time or if an alien reaches the barn. There's not a lot of variation in the game other than a gradual increase in difficulty with faster aliens, but it can still be pretty addictive.

App Details

Phone: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Category: Family Games
Price: $.99, Version: 1.0, Size: 17.9 MB
Release Date: 3/9/2011, Publisher: XMG Studio Inc.
Minimum software requirements: iOS 3.1 or later

This review of "Cows vs Aliens" was written by Jonathan H. Liu.

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