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Need to kill a few minutes? Get in the Fright Night spirit spirit with these fun Halloween apps. Common Sense Media has rounded up up their top picks of creepy, spooky (but not super scary) games and tools to share with kids this October and beyond.
Mickey's Spooky Night Puzzle Book (Ages 4+; iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) is a simple digital story book that includes jigsaw puzzles on several pages (four puzzles in total). It also asks children to look for ghosts hidden on certain pages. The puzzles have six pieces each and are easy to assemble, since they snap into place. The ghosts are easy to find for children who remember to look for them. At the end, the book asks children to match the ghosts with their silhouettes, which may be trickier Halloween app for young children than the puzzles. Children who are easily scared by Halloween-related content (ghosts, bats, spiders, and skeletons) may find this a little creepy. Characters in the story are scared by things "jumping out" and spooky noises, but it's the cartoon manner you'd expect from a Disney book.
The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin (Ages 5+; iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) is an interactive book with a minor Halloween theme that's safe for young children. It helps beginning readers learn to read by highlighting words as they are read, while those too young to read can watch and listen as the book reads itself.
I SPY Spooky Mansion (Ages 6+; iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) is a mildly creepy search-and-find game for kids. Each screen presents a riddle with a handful of objects to find. Zoom in to get a closer look and touch an object when you find it. The objects include things like skeletons, bats, and other spooky objects, but there's nothing scary happening in this Halloween app. The clues are read out loud and can easily be repeated in part or in their entirety, making this appropriate for early and even pre-readers.
Home Gene-Splicing Kit (Ages 8+; iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) provides a goofy fun way to mess around with photos and create strange or funny faces. You can upload your own personal photos to be used in the app, but you don't need to do so -- the app comes loaded with a huge supply of both human and animal portraits. It's worth noting that the newest update is a "Halloween Edition" that also includes a slew of "scary" monster faces, some of which have fake blood on them.
Angry Birds Seasons (Ages 8+; iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android) introduces 30 new levels commemorating the Chinese Moon Festival. For players who did not have Angry Birds Seasons already, it's a $.99 new app purchase. (The previous 30 summer levels, 15 Easter levels, 15 St. Patrick's Day levels, 15 Valentine's Day levels, 45 Halloween levels, and 25 Christmas levels are still playable, too.) Gameplay is the same (launch birds from a slingshot to collapse structures and destroy the pigs hiding inside), only the levels are embellished with Chinese-themed accessories like fans, pagodas, and conical hats.
Plants vs. Zombies (Ages 11+, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android) is a cartoony strategy game with farcical violence. The undead invaders are destroyed in creatively wacky ways, similar to the violence you'd see in an "Itchy and Scratchy" cartoon on The Simpsons -- but without any of the blood. It's certainly not meant for very young kids, but despite its horror-film atmosphere, it's a far less disturbing Halloween app than any of the real-time strategy games out there that are based on "realistic" warfare.
The Creeps! (Ages 11+, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) is a colorful and well-designed tower defense game, similar in concept to Plants vs. Zombies. The idea is that you must place weapons along the path to stop the Creeps (monsters) from getting under your bed. You'll need to strategize which weapons to buy and where to place them for maximum efficiency. You'll also need to budget and prioritize between upgrading and placing new weapons. The game has three modes: Survival (play X number of levels), Endurance (survive as long as possible), and Door Buster (survive long enough to destroy the door and stop future Creeps from arriving). While there is an inherent violence level in the genre, this game has nothing graphic and is sort of a passive/defensive level of violence.