Mentor Interactive: Cosmos Chaos
During 2010’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, I had the pleasure of speaking with a group called Mentor Interactive. I was immediately swept off my feet by the passion that these folks had for the games they were making which were, as you may have guessed, educational in nature. While companies like Nintendo have done some interesting things with educational game like Brain Age, they never really managed to find that happy medium between educational and entertaining. With one of the titles shown to me by Mentor Interactive, I think we may finally have it.
When I was growing up, I watched a lot of cartoons. I also played my fair share of video games. If in that time, someone had come to me and said that I could play a game that is like the cartoons I watch and it counts as doing homework, I would have been on that faster than that sentence could end. With Mentor Interactive’s Cosmos Chaos, it seems like that dream could certainly be possible for kids today.
Designed with 4th to 7th graders in mind, you play as a character whose dog, Hugo, gets captured by an evil villain by the name of Dr. Z, you have to upgrade your robot friend named Buddy to help you defeat Dr. Z and his robot cronies to save the universe. The characters are fun and interesting and the story would fit right in with anything on Nickelodeon nowadays. How does this have anything to do with learning do you ask? The gameplay is masterfully designed so that the child playing is learning the entire time.
As with most RPGs, there is fair amount of talking to people around towns in this game. What they’ve done is that throughout the conversation, certain words will allow you to look at their definition, which will give you experience points. You can also obtain additional points by seeing the word used in a sentence. Towards the end of the conversation, it even further reinforces the words by checking your understanding of what they mean. The more you remember, the more experience you gain to contribute to your robot Buddy.
It also wouldn’t be an RPG without random battle encounters. This is where Buddy comes into play. The battles are very similar to normal role-playing games and you can hit extra-hard by hitting the button at the right timing as a bar goes along a slider. Each enemy robot has a different color which corresponds to its weakness and Buddy has various attacks that he can use on enemies. At the end of the fight, Buddy will gain some experience, but first you have to play one of a series of mini-games all based on the words that you’ve been learning throughout your conversations. Even refilling health and the points Buddy uses to attack have logic based puzzles involved.
This game is so chock-full of learning, that a kid would not be able to make it out without learning. If nothing else, the story is interesting, fun and provides a great opportunity to read. Never have I felt more promise for an educational game than with Cosmos Chaos. It is available now, so pick it up if you have or know a child that wants an awesome game that will also help them learn. That wasn’t the only game I got to see from Mentor Interactive as well, so keep your eye out for more, but for now I’ll see you next week!