Educational games are looking to be an important part of the future, particularly for topics like basic arithmetic which really just amount to a lot of repetition and memorization. In light of that, I went on the hunt for a math based game to review and I found Castle Quests at Multiplication.com. The basic idea of Multiplication.com is that it is a one stop shop for all your multiplication teaching and learning needs. It has flash cards, work sheets, tests and, most relevant to this blog, games. The games are all pretty simple, flash based games and I picked one with a theme I knew I would find interesting.
Castle Quests is a 3 level multiplication quiz game using a medieval theme. The very simple storyline follows the player as they start out trying to become a Page at the King’s court, then become a Squire and finally a Knight. This is done by proving your prowess at multiplying. The graphics are simple and friendly, giving a nice theme to the game to make it not just repetition of facts. I really like how the graphics have this simple cartoony feel that almost feel kid-created, even though they are way better than most young kids could draw.
The first level is just basic facts and everything remains stationary, but by the Squire level things have started to move around and part of the challenge is keeping track of where the answers have gone. While you are playing through, it keeps track of how many questions you have answered correctly and how many you have answered incorrectly and displays them in the banners hanging from the herald’s horn.
Wrong answers don’t halt play, but just replacing the number with a black X really isn’t enough feedback for a child playing this game. This is particularly true since you can continue to click on the X’s. Also, nothing stops the player from simply getting the answer through guessing and elimination. As an experiment, I did a play-through in which I purposefully made as many mistakes as I possibly could. As you can see in the picture below, I made a lot of mistakes.
Over 100 mistakes later, I still see this screen:
I guess the King really doesn’t want good Squires.
Over all, its just fact repetition with a story over it like a skin. The graphics and story are cute, but the player’s performance doesn’t actually affect the story. There is very little feedback for the user, and because they can guess until they get it right, they really aren’t learning. If you just want to practice facts until you have them right, then this is the game for you. If you actually need to learn them from the beginning, then this might not be the right choice. I award Castle Quests with a 2 hearts out of 5. I’m just really not impressed.