Game Reviewed: The Counting Kingdom
Date Released: August 5th, 2014
Developer: Little Worlds Interactive
Publisher: Little Worlds Interactive
Platform: [Reviewed: PC], Mac, iOS
Genre: Strategy, Indie, Casual
Rated: E for Everyone
There is a clear, all too obvious line between fun and boring. When it comes to educational games, there are too many that try to actually teach you something like you were in a classroom, missing the point entirely when it comes to an interactive video game – having fun in the process. The Counting Kingdom is a wonderful exception to this and provides a colorful adventure across different lands, equipped with the power of math.
Legions of cute (yet destructive) monsters are descending upon five lands and their kingdoms and it’s up to a math magician to keep the cuddly critters at bay. Including the tutorial stage, each kingdom has six stages to complete, and as you advance to the next stage each one becomes progressively more complex than the last. There are some new mechanics introduced later on in the game that provides just the right amount of challenge and at regular intervals without throwing players for a loop with a sudden spike in difficulty.
A basic understanding of math is all that is required to complete this game, but still manages to be challenging. At the start of a level you are given three “number spells” to choose from, and on the field are the monsters with numbers written on them. Choosing one or more monsters on the field will add up the total, and if you have a spell that equals that total you can select it to destroy the monsters on the field. Monsters will move in on the board much like the zombies from Plants vs. Zombies where every turn will see more and more creatures moving in on your castle wall. Every turn a monster isn’t destroyed, more monsters will be in play, but it also opens up the possibilities of finding new solutions with your spells.
As you progress through the game, new challenges and elements fall into play. Potions can add or subtract a monsters value, move them one space, freeze or even destroy an entire row. You will eventually need to combine spells to total the ever increasing values of the monsters, and if there is a particular spell that isn’t all that useful, you can discard it in exchange of another one. The only nitpick I have with this game is that it doesn’t tell you the max number spell combos can reach. It didn’t stop me from completing a stage, but a spot on the side that lets players know the par would be nice.
The later stages of the game will introduce you to a couple of new monsters that change the game up a bit. A monster in a box is protected from your first attack and a king monster that adds 1 to neighboring monsters each turn. Occasionally, multiplication will be implemented in several stages in the form of tiles; if a monster were to reach these “x2” tiles, the value of that particular monster doubles indefinitely. These later stages can become quite testing of the players math skills, but the value is automatically changed and can still be dealt with using all the skills learned playing though the game. And when you’ve completed all the levels, there is a Free Play mode where you can play a stage at any difficulty you choose.
I watched my niece play The Counting Kingdom and was quite astounding. She loves how friendly, inviting, and vibrant the presentation of the game is and the music is a magical mix of enchanting, serene, and lively. When I asked her what she thought of the game she smiled and said that it was fun and that it didn’t even feel like she was doing boring math problems!
Giving this game a go for myself, I see that The Counting Kingdom has been expertly crafted and succeeds where many have failed. Being a game and an educational tool is an extremely hard thing to do, especially when it has to be fun to make learning effective. The Counting Kingdom not only heled my niece improve in math in the short amount of time she’s played, but she also fell absolutely in love with it. It’s a very difficult feat to seamlessly blend fun and math into one, but for The Counting Kingdom, they go hand in hand.
Overall Rating: 4.25/5