Forest Explorer: Natural Science for Kids is a game designed to educate children aged 5 and under, it focuses on the life of a squirrel exploring it’s natural surroundings, meeting other woodland creatures. Loaded with twelve animals to find, and bonus locations, children can learn about their forest friends whilst enjoying the relaxing soundtrack, and the cutesy graphics to keep them hooked. It’s education…but it’s fun. It’s Funducational.
I got, rather nicely, offered a game code the other day. Then I asked what game it was, whilst preparing myself for what I thought would be another FPS game or adventure game, I squinted at Dann, he handed over the code for Forest Explorer: Natural Science for Kids, and I looked at him. It’s a kids educational game. I’m 24 years old, why is he handing me this? How can I review a game that’s designed for children when I’m nearly a fully fledged adult? Oh wait! I have two children!
I place the iPad down in front of Lily, my youngest, but she’s just over a week old. She lacks any basic motor functions. She sucks. Looks like I’ll have to use my eldest. Eloise, she’s five. So the following review will be partly my thoughts on the game, and partly her thoughts on the game.
She holds the iPad, and she looks at the splash screen, “Pig…pig doesn’t have three i’s” she states. The title screen come on, and she sounds out the name of the game, so I can safely say that’s a font a child can read. Instinctively she taps on the title and it starts the game. “Aww it’s a squirrel, it’s so cute!
She wakes it up and it leaves the nest, her little adventure begins. Eloise seems to be dragging her finger across the screen to make the squirrel move, I asked her if she knew what she had to do and she said no. So no instructions or voiceover to instruct her on what to do. However she seems to understand that she has to run around, and then she finds some deer; this changes the circle in the top left with a flashing image of the animal she just encountered. It stands out amongst the greyed out animals that she hasn’t.
She taps it, opening a jigsaw puzzle mini-game. The universal shape of a jigsaw seems to be doing its job here as she understands what’s happening, and is smiling as she sets to work. I asked her what she’s doing, and she responds with, “I found an animal, and now I have to do a puzzle for them, so I have to put this one here, and then this one here…”
Once the puzzle has been completed, she is rewarded with a small animated cutscene of the jigsaw she just completed with the name of the animal shown over it. A woman talks in a strong american accent saying something about the deer. I asked Eloise what the woman said, but sadly she couldn’t tell me.
A bit further into the game, Eloise is directing her Squirrel – that she has now called, “Lily Mae” she has found several other animals and is currently completing the jigsaw for the Spider. Once she completes it she complains that she couldn’t hear the narrator again. This seems to be a case of the games music overpowering the narrator, and also the American accent may be a little bit too strong for a British child to understand.
Eloise has found honeybees, she completes the jigsaw, then watches the cutscene, this time when I ask what they are, she seems to have heard the narrator, and is able to tell me the facts in a half-arsed way, “They’re honeybees! They get stuff from the flowers, then they turn it into honey at their nest!”
I asked Eloise if she enjoyed the game, and she replied with silence. I asked again, but her fingers are too busy guiding her character to pay attention. I ask her once more, and she replies with, “yeah”. “Why?” I ask, “because it’s an adventure, Lily Mae likes adventures.” she responds.
She seems to have become lost in the world now, and seemed to really pick it up quite quickly. She loves nature, and this game seems to cover twelve of the woodland animals, which means twelve jigsaw puzzles, and seems to look like it can add more in future updates. There’s some hidden scenes, and some fun side activities, like foraging for food, there’s even options to change languages, so if your child fancies learning a new language, they can get started on the animal front here!
Sadly it doesn’t feel like a lot right now! Eloise managed to find 10 out of twelve available animals in at least twenty minutes. The woman talking either needs turning up over the games soundtrack as she becomes lost amongst it, or the game needs a less strong American accent. There could also have been a zoom feature implemented so children can zoom into the animals somehow, because kids love looking at things super close. The bar at the top that shows your progress seems to be a touch buggy, in which you swipe across to look at more animals, but it instead makes the squirrel run off in a direction.
Despite being quite short, the game is graphically suited to children, taking a storybook style approach. It’s not too colourful, nor is it boring. The soundtrack, despite being overpowering against the narrator, is nice and relaxing, and the puzzles are simple enough for a child to understand, yet not too simple to lose their attention.
Go grab the game for your kids by going here