Smash Your Food HD (iPad only), an educational game by Food N’ Me packs a big visual wallop. The app was one of a number of educational nutrition-focused applications chosen by First Lady Michelle Obama’s Apps for Healthy Kids contest.
Definitely file this edu-app under “Don’t try this at home.” After creating a profile, player guesses the number of servings of sugar, salt, and fat in common (soda, chips, pizza) and not so common (pork and vegetable egg roll, chili cheese fries) junk foods.
After the player enters their best guess for the number of servings, they pull the red lever and the food gets smashed. Have you ever seen a jelly donut ooze out explosively between two plates of metal? It’s as awesome and disgusting as you might imagine.
After the food is smashed the game compares the player’s guesses to the real number of servings. Oil is spooned by the teaspoon into a cup that starts to overflow around the ninth spoon full. Players are awarded stars as follows: 2 for an exact guess, 1 for a good guess, or 0 if they were way off.
After a player earns enough points they can unlock a “crazy food” or a new level. The crazy foods aren’t all that crazy. If the game includes a corn dog, then the user can unlock four corn dogs at once.
Smash Your Food HD has the right idea, but the game’s execution falls short. First, players who are good at mental math can get nearly every answer correct by tapping on the nutritional label displayed next to the food.
The “competitive” element of the game isn’t very entertaining. It is actually pretty tedious, and it takes away from the game’s message. The app offers kids a chance to watch food being crushed, something they don’t see everyday, and the visual effect is enough put you off corn dogs or hamburger for the foreseeable future.
It’s a small point, but the game’s “noodles” don’t reflect most types of noodles on the market. They are probably Ramen noodles, which have been fried commercially before being packaged. It might give kids the impression that all pasta is high in fat, which it generally isn’t.
Hint: remember the game bases its serving recommendations on intake per meal, not per day or per food item. It’s important to know the difference, were a player to actually try and follow the serving guidelines as issued by the game.
Smash Your Food HD approaches child nutrition from an new direction, and though the game could have been more thoughtfully executed, it still has the potential to make kids pay attention to what they eat, which is a great first step toward a healthier diet.