Like a swarm, those thirsty Bokkenriders are back, and threatening to disrupt the bucolic and melodic lifestyle for the citizens of Venn. In iMagine Machine’s second app, The Land of Venn – Numeric Storms, kids ward off doom to the kingdom by directly connecting numbers to add up to a given sum. Sounds easy, but to be successful you need to have lightening fast reflexes and learn to recall basic math facts. If you think too much, its curtains for the level and the evil Bokkenriders have drank all the life-giving waters from the pools surrounding the citizens. And that’s the magic here; kids can’t stop playing in saving the kingdom, and in the process of play, they are learning to add using a variety of combinations of numbers on the fly as well as coordinate visual scanning and motor control amidst the distractions of added visual and auditory layers. Land of Venn – Numeric Storms illustrates gamification at its best.
The back-story of this ingenious app as written from the developer: “The Land of Venn is a universe comprised of many worlds which are tied together by arteries carrying magic juice; the life blood of the mythical being Van Hiele, a rock-guitar playing Elegast from the waters of the Western Scheldt. Each world has a central pool from which the magic juice flows. The juice is protected by the Kabouters, tribes of different creatures that stimulate the juice’s flow. The evil wizard Apierogon, who lives atop the Dark Square Root, (an enormous castle of doom) has sent out his minions of little Bokkenriders to drink the juice, which will in effect kill the Kabouters allowing the evil wizard control of Venn and more importantly Venn’s magical guitar. You are charged with the honor of saving Venn by defending the pools and destroying the Bokkenriders using special knowledge gained throughout the game.”
Gameplay consists of using your finger to pair or line up a series of Bokkenriders so they add up to a known sum. Tip: you cannot sit and wait for one specific number to come up or you are doomed. This teaches flexibility and the ability to think laterally to achieve a goal. The game has a build in pause button on each level where sound and music can be turned off for more auditory sensitive kids, but also as a way for kids to stop and collaborate to plan strategies. And to that I say, “Bravo!” There are three different worlds with the chance to defeat 10 foes in each world. The first world is the land of fruit, followed by the land of sweets and then the shipwrecked isle. Every win is awarded 1-3 stars depending on performance, and reaching the end of a level climaxes in a fight to the finish with a very tricky boss. The illustrations have a psychedelic late 60’s vibe, and the narration is all mad scientist. I just adored the illustrations, and many of the characters are personifications of famous people. They are most likely unknown to the target group, but it’s fun for an oldster to identify them. Some of the celebs spied: Einstein, Edison, Jimi Hendrix, and John Lennon! I did find some kids to be a little over-stimulated by the artwork, and had trouble visually sorting through the array of characters and in making the ones connect that they wanted to make sums. It would be a great addition or upgrade to have the ability to adapt the time expectations for some kids and then be able to bump it up as they gain competency. But here is a super secret tip: When on a level, you can add sums up to the target number, it doesn’t have to be ONLY the target number.
One of the benefits of earning stars is the ability to spend cash on magic spells and potions that thwart the Bokkenriders and give more time to meet the goal of the level. Wizard Wall holds many valuable potions and spells from storms to water refills in chasing away foes. Progression is based on successful sums and elimination of the Bokkenriders that become steadily more invasive. Visual scanning is enhanced as well as visual motor skills. Attention and awareness are key, and at times kids may benefit from the pause button for a break to regroup.
In summary, Land of Venn – Numeric Storms by iMagine Machine, is a grand sequel as well as a stand-alone game for kids 6-8, (although kids younger and older may also enjoy it). It is Highly Recommended and a TWA Top Pick. Read TWA’s review of their original groundbreaking app, Land of Venn – Geometric Defense here, and experience how the story began.