Rainforest Survival Challenge is a very interesting and educational iPad game from Ruckus Media Group, geared toward kids ages 8 - 12 and teaches about different the species of plants and animals that live in the Amazon Rainforest. A complex game is included as is an information section about the Rainforest which is well written and very informative, including a map of this area and a larger world map showing the rainforest in proper perspective, a nice touch.
The main section of this app is a game where one plays against the computer, seeing who's animals or plants cards become either predator or prey as they go head-to-head against each other in a game of natural selection, with a tie also being an option.
Both the player and the computer get dealt five cards which are displayed across the screen. The player can see all of his personal cards but only the first three cards of the computer. Now the player lines up his cards so that the animals and plants, sometimes even fungus, have the capacity to eat or not be eaten by the corresponding card of the computer. Sometimes the animal on the card is already "dead," an interesting inclusion. This game has a few nuances of “rock paper scissors” as many of these species have the chance to be both the victor or victim in this game, depending on which animal or plant they are up against. If the player loses a round they lose a life, and after three lost lives, the player or computer who ends up with the most surviving animals wins the game and one can win a bronze, silver, gold or platinum paw as winning species are collected through various games played.
To be successful at this game, do double-click both the player’s and the computer’s cards to read up on these creatures, learning what you need to know to make the best choices possible. The information provided includes What I Eat, Threats to My Survival, and Cool Facts About Me, giving the player a lot of important info necessary to win these rounds. The photos used for these cards all look beautiful and are vivid with detail and I also enjoy the rainforest sounds used throughout this app. The green leafy background used during this card game is nice looking as well.
I enjoy this game a lot, but it did take some work to get me to a place where I find this game really fun and addicting. I find the wording of the instructions somewhat cumbersome as it is described that five “species cards” are dealt, and one must make matches that “create the best chance of surviving.” My mental block about this game early-on was that I thought these species cards represented the animals' species as a whole, not a term simply used to group animals and plants together. I also did not understand what these species were surviving, especially if we are talking about the entire group. The answer to this is each other, and each card represents a plant or animal as an individual, not their specific species as in a group of these same animals.
It is nice that one can see where mistakes are made, being able to read card info after the fact, but I have also lost the game a few times and I don’t know why, such as when my brown-throated sloth lost a round to an anteater, not specifically a predator.
This game can be a bit glitchy at times, as sometimes a card freezes when I am moving it around the screen and the game quit on me a few times as well. Also, when one must line up the cards under the computer’s, one must do so in the center of a very specific box, and it can be hard to get it just right so the game allows you to continue on, issues I hope than can be worked out in a future update.
It is nice that when a card is matched correctly, it turns orange, but It would also be nice if there were an option to let the player see all the cards that the computer has as I would rather spend my time plotting about matches keeping in mind the info I have learned rather than deal with the randomness that the two cards face down deliver in an educational game, although not knowing the last two cards of the computer does add to the strategies one needs to come up with in order to win. I think that players should have a choice of using the face down cards or not for their game play.
With these issues aside, once I was comfortable with game play I am impressed with the amount of info one can read up on to make the best choices for my species cards. Mid-grade school kids will be very drawn into this game, as will their parents and older siblings. This is definitely a game enjoyed alone as well as with a parent as there is a lot to talk about and strategize as players arrange their cards, playing against the computer. I hope in a future update more animals, plants and other choices are included, maybe even “man” being a species as it seems “man” is the biggest threat to many of these animals, but would not do well if already "dead" and played against a vulture or fungus. Although this may work as an idea, I can also see these developers shy away from using “man” as a choice, as it may bring too much morbidity to the game - just something to think about for a future update.