Friday, January 28, 2011

Cosmos Chaos! For Nintendo DS

My boys love video games. If I let them, they could spend hours at a time playing. Unfortunately, most games made for kids their age are aggressive, and have endless levels that get more difficult as they go along. There almost always comes a point when instead of bringing enjoyment, the games cause tension and frustration. Because of this, I have become extremely particular about what I am letting them play.

We were very fortunate when we were given the opportunity to review Cosmos Chaos! for Nintendo DS.

This is an educational game, but it also has some very cool features. The developers at Mentor Interactive chose wisely when they put their team together for this project. They hired cartoon artists from Nickelodeon and paired them with game developers from Konami games. Then they added in expert educators who were well versed in the national educational standards for grades 4-6. The game play is fun, and they still manage to add the education in.

The primary focus is on language and vocabulary building, but there is also a bit of science math and social studies sprinkled in.

This single player game is rated E (for everyone) but warns of some "cartoon violence". This mainly consists of some robots throwing objects at each other.

Here's the game concept. You are playing first person, if you're a boy, it's this guy. (there is also a girl version)

You are out for a walk with your dog, Hugo, when he is abducted by a strange looking UFO. Naturally, you set out to get your best friend back. You are on a trek through the desert when you find a really cool watch. (the one that cartoon guy is wearing) It does all kinds of great things. It even talks. Then you meet Buddy, he'll be your robot protector. He escaped from the ship, which is owned by the Evil Doctor Z, but he lost his language chips in the process. Thankfully, through your watch, you meet Froopa. She is Buddy's best friend from the planet Floopa. She wants to get him home safely and find his missing data chips. So now you are on a quest to save Hugo as well as help Buddy.

As you go about your missions, you encounter people who will talk to you and sometimes send you on quests in exchange for their help. You will also need to navigate areas using a map. You will make journal entries, and you will be required to answer questions. There are also altercations with some of Dr Z's evil robots (Bad Bots) who have been sent to try and disable Buddy. There are power ups, life meters, and that sort of game play, but it is not difficult to reboost or repair. Even if you do lose power, you are returned to a checkpoint. It's not a game over situation. It's pretty low stress, and there is an end in sight.

There are also mini games included. 

Here's what I liked
  • The game requires conversation skills.
  • There is a purpose, and there is a happy ending.
  • To play properly, the player takes turns while interacting with the game.
  • The player sometimes has to help others to advance.
  • The player, his buddy bot, and Froopa work as a team.
  • The player must follow instructions.
  • The game doesn't try to frustrate the player. There are menus on the screen to promote learning and help the player if he is having difficulty.
  • An assessment of the player's skill is being tracked by the game.

My boys thought this was fun, and I found it to be age appropriate and educational. I definitely recommend this one. It was developed to help struggling readers, but my avid readers found it helpful for reinforcing social skills, instead!

If you'd like to buy Cosmos Chaos! it is $19.99.

** I was given a copy of the game Cosmos Chaos! for review purposes. I was not compensated for this review, and my opinions are my own.