Edumacationamal games make my brain-thinky-thingy work out, and that be good for game reviewer, right?
All joking aside, The Counting Kingdom is a surprisingly fun and enjoyable little game that takes simple math and logic problems and presents them in a way to challenge kids to think more. What makes this a surprise is that, even if you have long-since mastered the basics of mathematics and are on to interstellar mechanics, it can be a fun little distraction to sit down and play while compiling data. Just because you're no longer ordering off the kid's menu doesn't mean you can't have fun with a delightful little title after all.
So, what is The Counting Kingdom and why should you play it? Well, it's surprisingly straightforward about what it is and what is happening. There is a kingdom that is being attacked by a horde of monsters. You play as an apprentice wizard who must defend the kingdom from the encroaching horde with the only weapon truly effective against such devious beasts... COUNTING!
At the start of each level a horde of monsters appears on the right with a series of castles you have to defend on the left. Each monster has a number on it and you have a selection of spells with numbers on them as well. Your job is to select a group of monsters to get their numbers to match one of the numbers on your spells, then cast the spell to destroy them all, giving you points for each monster you killed that way. So if you have a '5' spell and you have two monsters with a 3 and 2 standing beside each other, just select both, cast the 5, and you'll get 10 points! Simple. Straightforward. Easy.
Or, rather, it sounds easy at first. The player can only select monsters that are directly adjacent to each other, so just picking a 2 and a 3 monster can't be done if they're on the opposite side of the screen from each other. The player will also seek to destroy monsters with higher-level spells to get more points, and this is where the logic comes in. How can you wipe out a whole horde of enemies by matching them EXACTLY to the number on one of your spells? Do you keep combining spells in the hopes of getting the number exactly right and drawing just the right number to win? Do you opt to avoid that one high-number monster for a series of smaller ones of equal value for more points? Or is it worth it to try to clear the entire screen at once? Should you use that potion that lets you freeze an entire row or move a monster one space? Do you let that monster that wandered onto one of the tiles that doubles its value continue on or wipe out the monster behind him that could step on it next turn? It's a surprisingly big amount of logic and strategy, for a kids game at least.
However, those last six words are also the games undoing. It was designed for kids and made to simply teach them how to count. Sure, it does that wonderfully and throws in some logic on the side, but for an adult, it just isn't a lot. A solid player could potentially breeze through it on their lunch-break or at least rip off a sizable chunk of the game. Even a kid could probably beat the game in less than a week and, once done, there just isn't all that much more to do. Sure, you could replay levels or hit free-play mode, but once done with the game, that's all there is to it. It just becomes a math-based version of Plants vs. Zombies at that point and there is no reason to play other than to increase one's score.
As an educational tool it's pretty solid and a great way to get kids to learn and practice their math homework, but as a game it's just... not amazing. It didn't cause me pain and I didn't regret playing it which is more than I can say for some other titles, but aside from the general fun I had lining things up for a massive 43 spell streak, there just wasn't much to it. It's a solid educational tool,but lacks any real depth as a game. Good, but not much else to really think about.