September 8th, 2012 | By Charles Ferrendelli
One of the most fulfilling parts about writing here at The Indie Game Magazine is that we’re constantly being introduced to some of the most unique and innovative games that often don’t get covered on other video game websites. One example is how I recently learned about TigerFace Games, a new developer that has already released two educational games with a third coming out this autumn. I’ve been a firm believer that hardware such as the iPad is the future of self-education; all we need is a large selection of apps to utilize it. As far as I’m concerned, gone are the days of the proprietary Leapfrog device, at the forefront of educational games is TigerFace Games.
TigerFace Games currently has two games out, Equator and Smash Party. I was going to make this a joint review, but had enough to say about them both that they are found in seperate articles. Both of these are aimed not only at being educational, but being fun to play as well. Our review of Smash Party can be found here.
At its core Equator is a 2-player math game that has fun gameplay mechanics so learning doesn’t seem like a chore. The iPad is sat down vertically on a flat surface with each player on opposite sides. The screen is then cut in half and catered toward each player. The goal is to create a math problem that has the same total. In this sense not only are you becoming better at math, but the game promotes communication towards solving a problem as well.
You are presented with a beautiful world in which each player is on opposite sides, hence the name Equator. One of the first things you’ll notice about Equator is how detailed the world is. Bright vibrant colors, beautiful animations, and a quirky art style is one of the coolest aspects of the game. You’ll also notice slight changes in the games presentation as the world progresses through the seasons.
Each round, or day, the player receives a new set of numbers and signs. As you complete a round the night/day mechanic will flip progressing you further towards the next season. Traveling though each season will unlock higher numbers and more complicated signs such as multiplication, division, and brackets. The numbers are in forms of apples, and the signs are animals such as rabbits, sheep, birds, and bugs.
You control a marshmallow-looking creature that hopes around the world grabbing numbers and signs for you to use in your math problem. After you beat the first season you’ll even unlock the ability to throw a number in a hole and watch it land on the opposite side of the world for your partner to use. The more apples you use in a problem the quicker you will progress to the new season. Depending on how complicated your problem is you’ll unlock a certain amount of leaves that you can use to dress up your little marshmallow friend.
One of the features of the game that gives off a more modern approach is the unlockables. Let’s be honest, unlocking things just feels good. That reward system in gaming has become prominent in almost every genre and its genius to include it in an educational game. Equator offers hats for each of the characters. These “hats” can actually be full body wear such as the gangster suit, complete in a zoot suit and hat with toy guns. You unlock hats by finishing seasons, completing goals such as using a set amount of numbers, or by buying them with the leaves as stated above.
After playing by myself for a while to try and get a good analyzation of the game, I played with my 15 year old sister who said she enjoyed it. We went through all the seasons together in one sitting and unlocked quite a few hats. At some points even we were stuck in trying to figure out a math problems that involved 7 numbers to unlock the tower of fruit hat, Tutti Fruiti. While we could’ve unlocked every hat in a day or two, it will take kids a much more extensive amount of time ensuring longevity.
Currently the big downside Equator has is glitches, and there are lots of them. Some glitches I’ve experienced is pausing the game and losing the ability to un-pause it, going into the area to purchase leafs to buy hats and not being able to exit out, some over-lapping of numbers and icons when dropping them onto the Equator, one hat didn’t work at all, and in the hat shop text would become overlaid and impossible to read until I exited the hat shop and went back into the game where the text stayed even there. There are a lot of bugs to say the least. While these aren’t game-breaking glitches, I did run into quite a few during my play time, more than I’ve experienced in any other game I’ve reviewed. While I know my way around glitches, a child may not. The good news is that TigerFace Games have assured everyone that they’re working on an update.
Equator will run you about $4.75 on App Store after the currency conversion of the £2.99 price. While it may seem higher priced than a lot of games we review here on The Indie Game Magazine, in comparison to what Equator is competing against, educational products, it is priced very well. If you already have an iPad or are thinking of buying one it seems like the smarter choice to grab apps like Equator rather than buying a proprietary device and software from competing companies that will run you in the hundreds and be useless once the kid grows out of it. So to all parents out there, go out and buy one hell of a protective sleeve, some education apps like Equator, and let your child not only have fun, but learn as well.
To pick up Equator visit the App Store today!