As a blogger who covers both video games and parenting, I’m occasionally in the position to preview games before they’re released. Game companies occasionally send me marketing materials promoting educational video games for children, logo-fied swag, and other such nonsense to give away to my few regular readers. They get a free mention, I get to give away keyrings and rubber balls to my e-friends.
Rarely, the production companies will send me an early copy of their upcoming game. Because I’m in the parenting/gaming blogging business (such as it is), the games I receive are usually educational video games for children. They run the gamut, from boring tripe to pretty darn fun (even for an adult!). If I’m excited about something, I’ll tell my readers about it.
I have never been so excited about an educational video game for children as I have for this “Cosmos Chaos.”
I’ve bought into their hype, but rightfully so, I believe. The folk behind this game got a grant from the US Department of Education to build a game that teaches reading and writing skills to grade school kids. No big deal, right?
Well, the grant provided them with more resources than any educational video game for children has ever received. Rather than squander such an amazing opportunity, they pulled together an all-star team to conjure up an educational game the likes of which no one’s ever seen. Take your dream-team of movie industry people – like Tom Hanks, Sidney Poitier, Orson Welles, Stephen Spielberg, and Marilyn Monroe – put them in a room together and have them hammer out a movie. That’s the level of talent that went into making this game.
Artists from Nickelodeon. Game designers from Konami. Professors and experts on children’s learning. The team flew them all to Hawaii and paid them to make the greatest language skill-building game for grade schoolers the world’s ever seen. No small task, but they absolutely pulled it off. This educational video game for children is fun enough for adults, too. Challenging? Maybe not. But fun, and good for your vocabulary!
The version I played – apparently not the final version of this over-the-top educational game for children – has you playing the role of a bright kid, out for a day of fun with your dog. Next thing you know, aliens kidnap your puppy, robots are crash-landing in town, and you’re in charge of rescuing the poor pup from an evil overlord. The learning aspect of the game is interwoven seamlessly into the game’s mechanics; for example, when you converse with other characters, certain words are highlighted. Touch the word with the stylus, and a screen pops up to offer a definition and an example of the word being used in a conversation. The game then rewards the player with experience points for learning the word.
Further down the road, you’re given options with which to respond to characters’ questions – use the correct response based on the underlined word’s meaning, get more experience. If you get it wrong, no big deal – you’re prompted to try again, and you get a little less experience than if you’d got it correct the first time. It’s great that the educational game for children rewards players for trying again after failing.
“Combat” occurs regularly, but don’t worry – there’s no real violence. You’ve a robot protector who battles opponents for you, using strange and unique “attacks” to best your opponents. But we’re talking about two inanimate object throwing nuts and bolts at each other, not living animals or monsters or people. What’s great, though, is the vocabulary and word comprehension is woven in yet again. Not so heavily that it becomes a burden, or annoying, or slows down the action too much, but enough that it makes sure it’s doing its job and you’re learning while playing. It’s an educational game for children, but it’s really, truly, seriously, fun.
The original art work is unparalleled. The learning is fun. Building your robot to suit your needs and your preferences is a great touch, adding replayability to an already great educational video game for children. There are secrets to hunt, special robot attacks to unlock, and levels to gain. The game’s musical score is upbeat and catchy, with a different “feel” for every region you visit. The only thing they could’ve done better was to have worked on the characters’ voices – each character seems to have only one or two short blurbs to emote. Unfortunately, you’ll grow tired of the protagonist’s voice very quickly. A small complaint, but maybe one they’ll fix before the final build.
I’m not certain, exactly, when the game will be released. If you have kids, though, prepare for them to put it at the top of their birthday presents list. For once, however, it’ll be an educational game for children that you’ll know they will enjoy.
William is a parent and a New York straphanger. His kid is already on the way to beco