Free Facebook Game
Playdom's Disney Animal Kingdom Explorers is offered for free, but it does have items in the game that players can buy for real money. Some teens will be tempted to spend cash to speed up the game.
Inspired by the Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park and incorporating some scenes from the Disneynature's Chimpanzee movie, this Facebook game lets players join a Global Wildlife Research team. The game transports you to wildlife areas that need help. For example, while in Africa, you will find a baby elephant that has been separated from its mother. On another quest, you must clean up after poachers who have left trash in a preserve. The game starts in Africa, but expands to other areas, including the Amazon Rainforest and the Rocky Mountains.
How to Play
There are two components to the gameplay: solving a series of hidden object puzzles (many of which have you searching for camouflaged animals) and building and designing your own Game Preserve. Solving the hidden object puzzles earns you several kinds of currency, which you need to purchase items for your preserve. And expanding your preserve, earns you additional kinds of currency needed to unlock new levels of the game. The game's currencies divide into five different items: silver, gold, energy, experience, and reputation. A running total of each of these items appears at the top of the page. The costs for items vary, but if you want to purchase a zebra for your preserve, you will need to have 945 silver coins, 110 reputation points, and 170 experience points.
Advisors and other members of your team provide tutorials, support, and quests. As you complete puzzles and quests, and expand your preserve, you level up. Each new level earns you one piece of gold (the most valuable of all of the currencies) and enables you to purchase new animals, plants, and objects.
The social aspect of the game comes in the form of helping your friends who are also playing the game, and getting help from them. The game allows you to gift things needed by your friends and vice versa. If you don't have friends playing, some aspects of building the preserve will take a very long time. If you don't have patience and/or friends, you can spend real money to purchase gold and speed things up. You can also challenge your friends to contests to see who can find more hidden objects in a puzzle in a one-minute time period.
The best parts of this game are the hidden object puzzles, filled with animals of the world. They are set in realistic-looking scenes and teeming with life. With so many exotic animals, you are bound to not know what some look like. The game cleverly provides you with animal hints that combine interesting animal facts with a picture. By playing these hidden animal puzzles, you learn a lot about different birds, insects, and animals.
Facebook Platform Limits Its Audience to Teens
While this gameplay sounds like it would be appropriate for young children, kids younger than 13 years of age can't play, because this is a Facebook exclusive game. You must be 13 to be on Facebook.
Disney Animal Kingdom Explorers is a little pushy about constantly asking you to share your achievements with friends and suggesting you invite your friends to help you. At least it limits those friend requests to your current friends and won't let you befriend strangers to help.
Gold, the premium currency, is also a little too hard to come by in this free game. This scarcity means you'll be tempted to spend real money to get the gold. If you decide to go down the purchase route, it can get a little dicey, because the six increments of purchase range from one dollar buying only 4 gold pieces to the maximum of $100 buying 500 gold pieces. The latter seems unconscionable in a free casual game.
Even with the aggressive socialization and the expensive cost of gold, Disney Animal Kingdom Explorers is one of the better Facebook games, with great animal puzzles and a fun build-your-own-animal-preserve sim. Talk to your kids before they play it, so that they understand how this "free" game entices them to spend money. Then come up with a strategy that works for your family.
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