EXPLORIUM - OCEAN FOR KIDS
CONCEPT: An interactive tour of life underwater, complete with a wide range of facts and minigames.
DELIVERY: Built around a whimsical story of two kids searching for the lost city of Atlantis, Explorium blends oceanic fact gathering with mini-game puzzles to convincing effect. As you delve into the great unkown, pretty much everything can be interacted with - from puffer fish expanding to shoals scattering. The real targets though are highlighted by exclamation marks. Clicking on any of these underwater attractions reveals a fact about the creature/object which is both presented in clear large text and narrated for the user. The facts are simple yet incredibly interesting; it really is an excellent way to engage youngsters in non-fiction content.
The minigames appear sporadically throughout the quest - by clicking on the sunken treasure chests. There's a nice mix and they vary from sidescrolling action to match the pairs of cards. One that is a little more unusual but a great concept shows you a grid of tiles with stars on some of them. The stars are then hidden and the grid is rotated before you try to find where they moved too. It's like a simplified version of chase the ace or three card monte with a little rotational symmetry thrown in underneath! Oh and if you also find some glinting treasures dotted around the ocean floor, be sure to grab them as they can actually be used in one of the minigames - to decorate Atlantis itself.
The graphics are first rate and the music and sound effects are atmospheric. Users can also select from seven languages and four difficulty levels (for the mini games.) Speaking of the mini games, they can be accessed independently of the story adventure from the main menu. Likewise, any facts garnered throughout the quest can be reviewed from here by accessing the encyclopedia which is a great touch.
LIMITATIONS: Despite the exploratory theme, the game is very linear and with no save function or user profile selection, it means starting from the beginning and seeing the same creatures in the same places in the same order if you close the app.
CONCLUSION: Informative and engrossing, this is a brilliant learning tool for introducing youngsters to the wonders found under the sea. 4/5
Under the sea projects
As a simple research tool
As a prompt for creative writing
Mini games develop hand-eye, logic and problem solving skills