148Apps Network Post
Developer: Dan Russell-Pinson
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPod touch 4G

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

The problem with edutainment is that the entertainment portion is often lacking – Stack the Countries tries to remedy that. The game’s main mode is a two-pronged affair. First, there is the actual educational part of the game, which is a multiple choice question about the facts of the world’s countries. If you get it right, then you get to drop the country onto the playing field, with the goal being to stack them up above the clear line, trying to balance out the stack of differently shaped and sized countries without having them fall over. Doing so unlocks a country for your collection, which unlocks a flash card to see their facts, and collecting countries lets you unlock a couple of bonus games to mix up the experience in “Map It!” and “Pile Up!”

The game’s physics puzzler element is unique, as each country you have to stack presents a different challenge – you have to find ways to stack small countries, and then you may suddenly have to find a way to stack a huge country like the USA or Russia on top of your stack of small countries. Add in the quiz portion that affects which countries you get, and it’s an often unpredictable experience – and shockingly, you might learn some interesting facts while you play! You’d be surprised at just which countries have English as an official language. Stack the Countries comes with Retina Display and universal app support for the iPad, which show off the backgrounds and subtle animations really well.

The educational part of the game feels like it could be enhanced by additional info for the questions you answer, so you could learn more than just basic facts. As well, the stacking portion feels kind of limited, especially as there’s no bonus for dropping countries from greater heights – you can literally put them on top of each other without having to worry about what the physics of the impact would do. The game should also noticably raise the minimum stack height as you play, instead of the subtle rise that occurs over time, which makes the game feel repetitive if you’re trying to unlock the bonus modes. A points system would go a long way towards adding depth – the game could give you bonuses for higher accuracy on the quiz portion, for not letting any states fall, and for dropping countries from higher up on the board.

Stack the Countries is a novel idea, and a great idea for a game to give your kids that’s fun and educational, but it could certainly go farther in making it more fun and more educational. Otherwise, this is a unique game that does do a good job at teaching you about the world, while also throwing in a little bit of physics puzzle gameplay for both you and your kids.

148Apps Network content from - http://theportablegamer.com
Posted in: Education, iPad Apps and Games, iPad Education, iPhone Apps and Games, Reviews

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