Publisher: Mentor InterActive
Developer: Pacific Resources for Education and Learning
Genre: RPG Adventure
Release date: September 28, 2010
Review by: Lieren Teeling
Cosmos Chaos for the DS is a textbook example of the slightly cheesy, if accurate term “edutainment”. Aimed at kids between 4th and 7th grade, the title is an educational RPG developed by the Pacific Resources for Education and Learning with a grant from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Innovation and Improvement. Designed to be a great way for students to expand their vocabulary while playing a genuinely fun game, Cosmos Chaos is pretty ambitious.
Cosmos Chaos offers its players the choice to play as a boy or girl, but the difference is cosmetic only. It doesn’t affect the story or gameplay in any way. Regardless of which you choose, the main character’s little dog is abducted by a strange alien spaceship. Giving chase, the character finds themself in a desert town where they befriend a robot that the spaceship was really chasing. Unfortunately, all of the robot’s vocabulary chips have been stolen, so he can’t speak. Together the two set off to retrieve the robot’s chips and find the lost dog.
Encompassing elements of both an RPG and a mini game collection, adventure game, Cosmos Chaos has the player wandering from screen to screen talking to people and running errands in exchange for items or clues. When a random battle occurs, the player assumes control of their robot friend who then fights for them and levels up. After a victory, vocabulary chips are recovered by playing a mini game that asks the player to identify the meaning of the words stored in them by selecting a correctly used sentence. These vocabulary games are used to do almost everything. Responding to people requires you to choose the correct use of a word and healing/recharging your robot is done by two more vocabulary challenges. Any word that pops up can be tapped on to hear a pronunciation and definition of it, and hidden all over in the backgrounds are flashing stars that teach more words when selected.
It’s obvious after only a few minutes of play that this game is made for a particular age range. That being said, the idea of making kids learn to advance in a game is not a unique one. Educational games have been around since the first time someone figured out kids respond better to entertainment than text books. Cosmos Chaos, however, has one advantage going for it: enjoyable gameplay! Blending vocabulary building into an RPG is a surprisingly brilliant idea and the RPG elements themselves are well done. They manage to keep the focus on the story and gameplay rather than the constant review.
There is little bad to say about this game other than its mediocrity when compared against the standards most gamers go by. It doesn’t have fancy, flashy graphics or a gripping, moving story. There’s no emotional voice acting or beautifully dramatic dialogue, but that isn’t the point here. For the age range it targets, it’s perfectly appropriate, well written, and engaging.
Cosmos Chaos really accomplishes what it sets out to do, and that’s to make a charming, enjoyable game to teach kids vocabulary. With two younger sisters in the targeted age range, I can vouch for it’s appeal to them as both are eager to get their hands on it. Too bad there’s only one save file. With that in mind, Comos Chaos deserves a high score for succeeding where most “edutainment” games fail.