One of the games that I really enjoyed playing back in the 90s was Uncharted Waters: New Horizons. I learned a lot about the life of European explorers who were brave enough to set sail for the new worlds. The game allowed me to choose different roles and experience trading, discovering new lands, mapping the globe, treasure hunting, and fighting the pirates.
As I was browsing the App Store a few days ago, I stumbled upon a game from Planet History called Age of Explorers. The game introduces kids to six famous explorers such as Christopher Columbus and Vasco da Gama. Playing this game with my kids reminded me how I used to learn about the Age of Exploration through a PC game. As a parent, I’m grateful that Planet History releases a fun game that can also act as an Age of Exploration Study Guide for my kids.
Manage the Ship Crews
You start the game by playing as Christopher Columbus back in 1492. As he was trying to start his incredible journeys across the Atlantic, you need to manage his ship crews and help them solve all the challenges during the long journeys.
For example, in real time, you may need to assign someone to fix the sails, load the boxes, and get some fish. Depending on their needs, sometimes your crews also need to sleep and eat. Once in a while, your ship may be plagued with rats or caught in fire. Other times, your crews may be severely hit by a sickness.
To assign someone, you need to tap a ship crew with an icon shown on top of him. Once you tap the person, the game will show a yellow silhouette to indicate where you need to assign him. To complete the assignment, simply tap to the yellow silhouette as the destination of the selected crew.
Things may become more challenging as the ocean wave is getting bigger and the ship moves unpredictably. Sometimes, a thick fog may hampered you from finding these places — but nevertheless, you need to complete the tasks before their time run out. Otherwise, the task is considered a miss and the ship may get flooded — as a consequence.
Every time the ship runs into problems, you’re having a little side back — in terms of time. The gameplay is a fast-paced one. Your goal is trying to complete as many tasks as possible before the overall time limit runs out.
Unlock the Explorers and Their Stories
Each time you complete a level, you will get a number of stars depending on how fast you complete that level. Once you have accumulated enough stars, the game will automatically unlock a new character for you to play with. You may start with Christopher Columbus, but you can have access to other explorers such as Ferdinand Magellan, Sir Francis Drake, and Henry Hudson.
Completing a level means that you can unlock the next level in an explorer’s journey. Typically an explorer’s journey, such as Vasco da Gama’s, is divided into nine levels. As you complete more levels, you will unlock facts related to the explorer and hear their complete stories narrated to you.
For each explorer, you will find six Do You Know facts related to him. Here’s an example of what you can learn when you have unlocked Christopher Columbus.
Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa in 1451 as Christoforo Colombo. He knew the earth was round, but he thought it was much smaller than it is. He commanded three ships — Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria — across the Atlantic in August 1942.
When you have completed all the levels, you get to hear the explorer’s complete stories narrated to you.
Parents Need to Know
Age of Explorers is part of Planet H — a new brand from HISTORY, created for kids to explore historical topics and eras through play. For example, this game chooses to focus on six famous European explorers ranging from 1492 to 1609.
The gameplay itself is quite difficult, especially if you’re trying to collect all the stars. Kids ages 7+ may be able to achieve it if they decide to play it using fingers from both hands on the iPad mini. But keep in mind that the difficulty levels are increasing as the ship becomes bigger and you need to manage more crews.
Things I Like
In total, there are five unique ships that you can play — each is associated with the different explorer. That way, the game allows you to see how different ships are structured.
When the ship is getting bigger, you also tend to have more crews. You will be exposed to new roles and see how teamwork is required to run a ship. The game demonstrates it by showing how the crews need to run around the ship, fixing different parts of the ship, and sometimes take a rest or have something to eat.
Age of Explorers is a fun game from Planet History that focuses on the story behind five famous European explorers, including Sir Francis Drake and Henry Hudson. The challenges in this game require kids ages 7+ who have a quick reaction and a great hand-eye coordination. If you’ve been looking for a great game to intrigue your kids’ interest in the Age of Exploration era, you should definitely give Age of Explorers a try.