An educational tool masked as a game
Yum Num’s Galaxy is for children and their parents. If you plonked this game down in front of a person 12 years of age or older and told them to have fun with it, they would play it for five minutes before turning it off and telling you it sucked. Without any context, this game is not much fun. But Yum Num’s Galaxy is not intended for people 12 years of age or older. It’s intended for very young children and parents who are willing to go the extra mile.
When I first played Yum Num’s Galaxy I had absolutely no clue what it was supposed to be. After my first game, my jaw very nearly dropped. A play session lasts about a minute. There is almost nothing to it and it is entirely unchallenging. But as I played it dawned on me that Yum Num’s Galaxy is as much an educational tool as it is a game, and, most intriguingly, the bulk of the game is not played on the iPad. It’s played in the kitchen.
The part played on the iPad goes like this though: you take on the role of Commander Yum Num, an absolutely adorable feline protagonist who is tasked with feeding an equally adorable group of aliens. To prepare dishes for this motley crew of extra terrestrials, Commander Yum Num must travel into space to collect the requisite ingredients. To make macaroni and cheese for example, Yum Num needs milk, cheese, and noodles. Once these materials are collected, you must combine them in a very high tech oven, tap the screen, and voila… a meal fit for ET.
The ingredient collection process is very simple. In Game Mode, Yum Num flys his ship through a veritable asteroid field of foodstuffs, tractor-beaming the necessary ingredients away from the unnecessary ones with a tap of the finger. There is no way for Yum Num to fail this… there is no danger — just cheese, milk etc. Simple Mode is, as one might expect from the name, even simpler. Gone are is the asteroid field of miscellaneous foodstuffs. The only things floating on the screen are the ingredients you need.
When you complete a dish it reveals a real life recipe (simple ones for the most part). This, I think, is where the real game comes in.
Imagine a lazy Sunday morning. You’re wondering what to cook for dinner. Instead of the same old same old, you decide to hand your 5 year old the iPad.
“Hey buddy,” you say. “How about you help Yum Num decide what we’ll be eating tonight.”
So, your child plays the minute long game. The dish is randomly selected. So after getting Spaghetti and meatballs as the objective, your child blasts off to collect the ingredients. After winning, the recipe is unlocked.
“Very good,” you say. “Now lets go to the supermarket and buy these ingredients!”
You and your child do some errands, get home, and return to the iPad to open up the recipe he unlocked in Yum Num’s recipe bank. Then, step-by-step, you make a nice, healthy meal with your child and everyone’s happy. Sounds pretty cool doesn’t it? Yum Num’s Galaxy is a creative way to make healthy eating and cooking fun for your whole family.
Unfortunately I have no kids of my own with which to test this theory, so everything I just postulated is hypothetical at best. It could be that your 5-year-old kid would rather play one of the hundreds of iPad games that are actually fun instead of Yum Num’s Galaxy. When I was five, I was playing Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Genesis. I would have been bored with Yum Num within three minutes. But I might not have been bored by learning how to cook with my parents.
The only way you’ll know whether this game is worth it is by trying it out. At the very worst, you wasted a dollar in an attempt to engage your child with a creative way to learn healthy eating and how to cook. At the very best, you’ve found a new Sunday afternoon ritual.