Air Forte takes kids to the skies for math, geography and vocabulary lessons.
Blendo Games’ latest venture sends young players to the skies and manages to teach them math, geography, and vocabulary in a fun new way. In Air Forte, players will learn on the fly where countries are located, which words are nouns, verbs, or adjectives, and which numbers are multiples of others. Air Forte doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it keeps it rolling with an appealing game that might just be what your kids need to strengthen their knowledge.
Adventure mode has a cute presentation with hand-drawn characters that resemble those found in an old storybook. It’s doesn’t have much of a narrative, and the scenes are unanimated, but birds, mice, a leopard, an octopus, and a kid interact in comic-style frames as they look for missing numbers and words. The map is split up into three different areas: Math Mountains, Geography Jungle, and Vocabulary Valley. Within them, players will advance from one level to the next by flying over the correct tiles.
All players need to do is control a little airplane with the mouse, the keyboard, or even an attached game controller. The skies are filled with tiles that contain words, numbers, or both. If the game prompts you to select multiples of 9, for example, you must avoid all the tiles with numbers that aren’t multiples of 9 and only fly over the ones that are correct. Same with countries; you may be asked to pick European countries, and if that’s the case, you ought to stay away from all the other flags while hovering over the right ones.
The vocabulary challenges call for all adjectives, nouns, or verbs on the screen, which requires special attention, as some words can act as both verbs and nouns, and they might be tricky for less experienced players. The good news is that’s exactly the purpose of Air Forte - reinforcing the player’s basic knowledge in the three provided areas. With practice, players will remember what they’ve learned.
To make the aircraft travel, players must hold the right mouse button (or appropriate selections on the keyboard) and point towards the desired tile. However, you have to know when to let go, as holding it for too long while moving the cursor will make the plane’s trajectory curl up, and you might end up touching the wrong tile (it adds time, which lowers the score) or hitting the wall, which causes a rebound and often sends you straight towards disaster. The challenge increases as you advance, presenting stages loaded with a few too many tiles, making it more difficult to stay away from undesired pieces.
Getting through each stage will reward players with points that can be compared with other players’ scores, both at home and online. This access to the outside world should help to keep players motivated and increase the challenge. Players will also unlock other gameplay modes that attempt to keep things fresh. In Challenge mode, players will be prompted to look for both numbers and words at the same time, while Infinite mode has them playing until they fail, offering a limited amount of time per challenge and keeping track of the score at the end. Practice mode allows players to do just that, by selecting one or more types of number, word, or geographic challenges.
The presentation is attractive overall; both visuals and sound help to offer a pleasing experience for the younger ones without being too flashy or strident, which has unfortunately become too common in today’s kids games. Another plus is the four-player support in all game modes, which allows kids to share the experience and double the fun, as they will be able to compete for the best score.
On the other hand, the controls in Air Forte aren’t exactly perfect, but at least they are accessible enough for everyone. Perhaps the game’s biggest gripe is the lack of variety, as the gameplay becomes repetitive after a while. It would have been nice to add a few other challenges that stay away from aircraft maneuvers to make sure children don't end up getting bored and moving on to the next thing.
Children will enjoy Air Forte for a while, especially in small doses. As long as it’s not the only game in their library, this arcade title will manage to teach them what they need to know and help them remember it.
- Useful tidbits of knowledge. Accessible for children. Cute, storybook-style presentation.
- Iffy controls. Repetitive gameplay.