Monday, July 15, 2013

Dig It Games: Mayan Mysteries {A Review}

Mayan Mysteries is a fun, fast-paces game that keeps kids learning as they play.

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Mayan Mysteries Online Game

The Essentials - What you need to know
• Company: Dig It Games
• Product: Mayan Mysteries - Online Game
• Age Range: 5th - 9th Graders
• An online game about the Maya history and archaeology.
• Price: $21.99

The Review

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Crash, bang, through the window of the Chief Mateo's office flies a statue of a Mayan ball player with mysterious mark on the bottom and a note from the looter.  Chief Mateo quickly puts in a call to his good friend Quinn, who with his young niece and nephew (who were on their way to camp Kilamonth) need to come to Guatamala immediately to solve the mystery of a series of thefts at archaeological sites. 

That was how Mayan Mysteries, an online game from Dig it Games, starts, with comic book style.  It plunges the player into an exciting mystery.  From the virtual comic the player is introduced to the main characters in a police station.  The player clicks on each character to find out more information about the case. The player reads the information.  At the end of each reading is a challenge, a multiple choice quiz.  The player, in a Jeep, needs to stay in front of the looters in a red pick-up truck.  For each right answer the Jeep moved forward, for each wrong answer the pick-up truck moved forward.  If the player misses too many questions the looters catch up to them and they fail the challenge.  Don't worry, though, because the player can try again, with the same questions.  

The majority of the game is reading with a multiple choice quiz at the end.  There is a lot of reading. Information about the ancient Maya's culture, political culture, family life, and more.  There is also a lot about archaeology.  How archaeologists work at a dig, the tools they use and the different kind of artifacts they find. 

In each section there are one or two puzzles that are not multiple choice quizzes.  There are some fun map labeling puzzles that really help the player get comfortable with the geography of Central America.  There is an artifact digging game where the player has to choose the right tool to unearth the artifact without breaking it or taking too long.  It really gives insight into the archaeologist's craft.  There is an "I spy" type game, where the player has to find specific artifacts.  Artifacts that were introduced before in the reading and in other games.  This was Zippy's favorite game.  I played the game a little for myself and she was very animated when I got to this part.

When I found out that I was getting this review I let Zippy know.  She is all about video games.  Given her druthers she would spend all day playing them.   To say she was excited would be an understatement.  There is a free trial on the website so I let her play that.  She was frustrated when it got to the part where it said, "in order to continue please purchase", and bugged me every day to see if the e-mail with the access had come. When I did receive access to the rest of the game I was out of town for a few days.  I took pity on her and got it set up for her from where I was at.  I was gone for three days.  She was completely finished with the game by the time I got home (and she had to start again from the very beginning).   Being the astute reviewer I asked her what she thought of it.  She said "It was short and it ended with a cliff-hanger". 

Zippy was disappointed with the game.   She thought that there would be more game in the purchased product past the free trial.  The cliff hanger really bothered her.  This child is a real fan of resolution. According to the website the game is for children in grades 5-9.  I think that the reading material is at that grade level, but the sophistication of the game play and puzzles are at a lower level.   However I know that she did learn things.  When I was playing the game she would pipe up with bits of information that she had gleaned from her experience playing the game.  I think this game would make an excellent extension to a unit on the Mayans.    

A word about customer service:
I had an opportunity to interact with Dig It Games.  When I do a review I get the product for free (check out the disclaimer at the bottom of this post).  I made a mistake when getting access to the game and actually purchased the game.  It was not a big deal, but I e-mailed the company to let them know what I'd done. They e-mailed me back right away, even though it was on a weekend and refunded my money in a timely manner.  All in all I would be very comfortable doing business with Dig It Games again.  


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