Smash Party – Review

A review of Smash Party I wrote for the website www.square-go.com

Right then: edutainment. A word strong enough to strike fear into the most pixelated video gamer’s heart. What is it? The unholy melding of video game entertainment and education. But is this a bad thing? Can Smash Party Pro prove that, perhaps, video games really do have a place in the classroom?

Smash Party is a game aimed at two camps; teachers and their students. This is a delicate balance. The game needs to have enough flashy stuff to hook the kids but also have something to hook in the teacher to bring it into the classroom in the first place. A place that isn’t known to welcome video games in with open arms.

The game does this by maximising the learning; it is built around word and number based mini-games. Four players sit around the tablet or smartphone and one player gets a question. The other three players have an answer in their section of the screen, everyone then has to put their heads together to figure out the correct answer. This is either done until you get a question wrong or if you reach a certain number of correct answers.

Simple.

What is great about the game is that it isn’t competitive, it’s about the players working together in order for the team to win. For teachers it’s a good way to help further this behaviour in the classroom. Another bonus is that the game isn’t static as Smash Party comes in two flavours, Cat and Mole which is basically the two age ranges the game comes in; Cat being 5-6 and Mole 6-7 years old. Teachers can also customise the in-game content via a web tool in order for it to fit in with what they want their students to learn.

All of this is great and the look of the game doesn’t let it down. The last thing you want with a game like this is to make it dry and boring so Smash Party comes at you with bright colours and big bold text and a clean look.

So the game ticks several boxes but whether or not it is a good game is a question that is difficult to answer. It isn’t a game that will suddenly take the audience from Angry Birds. This isn’t something that you would download and hand to your child to keep them quiet in the car. This can’t be judged as a pure game because a pure game has one goal, which is to entertain the player. Smash Party has to be useful for a teacher, it has to fit into learning plans and schedules. It is a whole different criteria than something you would apply to a platformer.

Smash Party works against this criteria. The look of the game helps to grab the attention of the kids but then help them work as a team and to learn. It is something that may not fit into every classroom but it does have a role to play.

Three stars out of five

Originally published October 7th 2012

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