Now that the Summer is over and the school year has begun young minds all over the world are hunkering down to learn the building blocks for future success. Ensuring that they master certain skills is critical and requires practice. With that being said, the current curriculum in schools is much more diverse than it once was. As a result of that diversity comes less time to practice any particular skill during the school day. That practice needs to take place at home. Getting kids to sit still long enough to do their assigned homework is tough enough but getting them to do extra practice is like convincing a cat to go for a swim. In my personal experience, making it fun is a much better tactic than withholding snacks. So, I employed my 8 year old daughter to help me review the game.
Monkey Tales is meant to make learning math fun but it’s actually much more than that. Developed by Larian Studios and die Keure that is geared towards 2nd to 6th grade students. It is a combination of logic puzzles and arcade based math mini-games. Players are allowed to create their own unique character that they can save their progress to. Their progression is marked by navigating levels to collect bananas and freeing monkeys by winning math challenges. All the monkeys are moved to the player’s zoo and the more bananas you have, the happier the monkey’s are.
Each grade level has a different adventure and theme. They all revolve around some kind of mystery and are essentially sugar coated Indiana Jones style adventures involving museums, tombs and the like. They weren't incredibly exciting stories because when I asked my daughter what they were about she told me she just clicked right through them.
The level design is fairly simple and includes moving objects to bridge gaps or obstructing lasers to gain access to the banana collectables. As the player progresses the levels throw in enemies to avoid. The enemies walk in the same pattern over and over so inexperienced players won’t have much trouble. If players do have trouble or don’t care for collecting bananas they can move directly to the math stations, they are easy to find because their will be a monkey dancing beside them. These levels are fun for players that have an inclination towards item collecting but it doesn’t make it a hard requirement. My daughter did enjoy collecting bananas early on but as some of the levels got tougher she avoided them and went straight to the math.
The real star of the show is the math games. They are varied and ramp up in difficulty as the player shows increasing proficiency. Some of games require the player to simply choose the correct answer by clicking it while others are arcade style challenges against the computer to get the correct answer faster. Stringing together correct answers results in points bonus to boost high scores. The mini game designs are reminiscent of classic arcade titles such as Asteroids, Spy Hunter and Centipede. When new math games are opened up the players can return to them later to improve their scores. My daughter really enjoyed the math challenges and did a few of them several times to beat her high score.
The game isn’t a graphical powerhouse and the navigation through the games levels isn’t innovative but the math mini games are very well done. I actually found some of the math problems in the later grade levels challenging to complete quickly. My daughter’s math has improved quite a bit having played this game so that alone makes it worth it. I don’t think you’ll be able to convince your child to pick Monkey Tales over Super Mario Bros. but if you get them to play in their appropriate grade level they will be challenged and have fun. It will give them the much needed practice they need without you having to write out and grade hundreds of math problems yourself (which is what I was doing prior to downloading this game from Steam).