James Recommends - Counting Kingdom - Want a Good Educational Math Game? - monstrousmath.com

James Recommends – Counting Kingdom – Want a Good Educational Math Game?

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Platform: PC, Mac, iOS (Fall 2014)
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James Recommends Counting Kingdom, an educational game that introduces children ages 4 through 6 to the basic principles of math (mainly addition and subtraction). The basic tower defense mechanic teaches kids to use their math skills to defeat monsters, while top scores and rewards encourage them to seek out more difficult problem sets for themselves and challenge the limits of their mathematical knowledge.

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Extra Credits – How Games Can Improve Our Schools
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Check for hidden annotations in the video or turn on subtitles for Bonus Facts about The Counting Kingdom!


  1. James Recommends… the show where I get to learn about games I would otherwise never… ever… have heard of.

  2. As a designer of games for language learning I'd like to refute the assumption that it is the designers who are to blame for the lack of creativity in games. The problem is actually the reverse: well-designed learning games generally don't fit into the constraints of the education system. It's possible to design engaging games that help people learn (satisfying the end-user), and it's possible to design game-like activities/gamified quizzes that align with the needs of the education system (satisfying teachers/administrators/school systems), but it's incredibly challenging to do both, especially when it's far more difficult to guarantee ROI for a concept (learning games that people enjoy) that has proven unsuccessful for the past 40 years. People still talk about "The Oregon Trail" as a model learning game, and that's 40 years old! 

  3. Did James Recommends stop doing the Bonus Fact captions?

  4. Love the math reference on your shirt! 🙂

  5. Wanted to get this for my niece, realized there is no android version: disappointement…

  6. Gasp!  Is that a Prinny I see????? AWESOME!  

    FYI the bonus facts are hard to read sometimes.

    BTW James do you have a steam curator's page yet? 

  7. Any game that helps kids to make a conscious decision to try harder math problems in a way that they find as both engaging and entertaining is well worth the recommendation.

  8. I've met the developer of this game several times, this game is a lot of fun and the dev is really cool.

  9. Really awesome stuff. The educational game space has such amazing potential that is very rarely executed on and it looks like Little World Interactive is aware of this fact. Can't say enough good things about this. The biggest thing I can levy in opposition to it is that the price seems a tad steep at 10 dollars. It won't break the bank, but there are similar, though non-educational, experiences that cost as little a dollar. I hate to think that the only reason someone would pick up an alternative to this for their tyke is because of it's price tag.

  10. Why do you have 2 copies of the complete Sherlock Holmes?

  11. The music at the end of the video, are there tabs for it somewhere? Thanks!

  12. James I have no problem that you recommend a game like that, because is good to have a wide view on video game, is also cool if you recommend board games to.  

  13. Thanks for showing me this. I'm currently working on an educational math game, and I might be able to learn something from this game from a design perspective.

  14. I really love the energy James has in this episode, maybe its just the novelty of seeing a cool looking game about children' mental arithmetic but by the end I was just feeling like "yeah lets play this, lets f*ck this maths up"

  15. Check out "My Little Mathematician"
    educational math game for young kids, or for anyone trying to learn basic math. All of the math problems as of right now can go up to one hundred, and there are no timers so you can take your time and really concentrate on solving the math problems.

    IT'S FREE!!!
    Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.HayastanMegerdichian.MyLittleMathematician
    iTunes App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/my-little-mathematician/id904092188?mt=8
    Amazon Appstore:http://www.amazon.com/Green-Room-Games-Little-Mathematician/dp/B00MSY40RA

  16. Very cool! I always love James Recommends. You really do cherry pick some of the most novel games being developed right now and your take on things is a delight.

  17. So if anyone is looking for a old school dungeon crawler, a cheesy story, a JRPG or if anyone wants to play a game that has some of the greatest and the worst design I've ever seen, welcome to Dean Recommends.

    Dark Chronicle, known as Dark Cloud 2 in America, is a 2003, third person JRPG on the PS2 developed by Level 5, the company that has brought you the Layton, Ni-no Kuni and White Knight Chronicles series'.

    Without spoiling the story too much, Dark Chronicle follows the stories of Maximillion, a teenage engineer whose mother disappeared at a young age and Monica Raybrandt, a princess whose father was murdered before her eyes.

    What's really awesome and unique about Dark Chronicle are all the systems that they throw in at you and the pacing at which these are presented. First off, leveling. In this game, Max and Monica don't level up but their weapons do. Later on in the game there are ways to increase the defense and health pools of both characters but most of the time you'll want to be thinking about leveling your weapons. Your weapons have their own individual set of 10 stats along with their own experience bar. When a weapon levels up. It unlocks a certain amount of synthesis points along with increasing the raw attack of the weapon. Any item in the game can be synthesised. Once synthesised, items are reduced to their most basic properties (I.e. A certain amount of a stat). These items can then be consumed, along with your synthesis points to add the stats of the synthesised item to the weapon of your choice. Once a weapon reaches a certain amount in all stats, it can evolve into a new, stronger weapon.

    Each character also has a tool they can use to help them in combat. Max has a large robot called the ridepod which takes down stronger enemies easily. It earns its own experience which can be traded with an npc for ridepod upgrades. Monica has the ability to transform into monsters once she has obtained the badge of that type of monsters. Badges are generally found by doing certain challenges involving that creature type. Once transformed, you can talk to all the different creatures in the level of the same type as you. Each monster form also has its own experience and once reaching certain levels, you are rewarded with gems which you can synthesize or sell.

    Max is an engineer and as such, he is also an inventor. You can combine three ideas into a single invention and then craft that invention using materials which can generally just be brought. Ideas however is where this gets interesting. The only way to get ideas is to find pre-existing objects in the world and take a picture of them with Max's camera. The difficult part is that some photos, particularly those to craft the strongest items in the game, are only available at certain points in the game, e.g. During boss fights. They counter this however by allowing photos to be placed in a photo album. These photos are conserved between all saves on the memory card.

    Done? Nope. Dark Chronicle is a world building game. By which I mean that between dungeons, you actually build the world. Using a big machine and stones collected from dungeon levels, you can craft all sorts of natural and artificial structures to place in certain areas. The aim of this is that you are re-building the future. I won't spoil why but Max and Monica each own a medallion which allows them to teleport up to 100 years into the future (Max's) or 100 years into the past (Monica's). As you go through levels you collect the materials and currency you need to craft the objects you need to place to restore the future. Once houses are built in the present, you can move certain people from town into each building to accomplish certain goals which will lead the the futures restoration. Unfortunately you have to do certain tasks for each person to get them to come with you and some are rather tedious.

    Along with all that there are two more systems which I can think of right now and probably a few I can't think of. Fishing plays a major role in Dark Chronicle. It is, for the most part, completely optional. I'm not a fan of the fishing system in this game. You have to be careful not to break your line by following the fish with the rod and reeling them in at the right time however fishing becomes easier the more you do it as for each fish you catch, the fishing rod gains experience which can be traded for five vital stats for fishing such as line strength and cast distance.

    The final system is essentially golf. SPHEDA as it is known in Dark Chronicle is a golf mini game unlocked after all creatures are defeated within a level. If you can get the ball in within the set number of terms you are greatly rewarded. However, due to the level design in Dark Chronicle, this is exceptionally hard. You'll see what I mean but it is really frustrating at time.

    Dark Chronicle is also a great looking game. It is stylised in a fashion similar to ni-no Kuni and it looks fantastic, particularly for a PS2 game. Sadly, Dark Chronicle is also riddled with faults. None are game breaking but they are quite annoying at times. Immediately after starting the game, you are met with about three minutes of gameplay and twenty minutes of cutscenes. The tutorialing in this game is also lacking. All the tutorialing is simple videos found through the help menu which just explain the various details of the systems. Pull can just jump right in though. If you think through each system logically, it is easy to work everything out. Also, the controls aren't great. They are far from the worst I've seen but I often find my character going through the animation of trying to pick up an object in front of me when I was actually trying to shoot my gun or throw a fireball which also blocking the enemy. Finally, it's a long game. I've never finished this game simply because I was unable to obtain a certain photo that I needed to get the strongest ridepod weapons however this photo is only obtainable about 130 hours into the campaign and I couldn't do that again. When I reached the last boss, my original save had 144 hours on it. You don't even see all of the systems until about 30 hours in so unless you have a real hankering, probably not worth the time as a game designer. As I said, really long game.

    So that's Dark Chronicle. Third person JRPG dungeon crawler for the PS2 with rediculous systems, great graphics, stupid length, poor controls and some rather frustrating or just outright cheesy story moments. Have fun.

  18. Lovely game! Thanks for the recommendation. I'd love two things on that game: playing as a female wizard, and epic explosions with bigger sums. Random 'horde mode' would be awesome too.

  19. Haha, this looks amazing! I never thought an educational game could actually have, like, gameplay XD I'm curious, is it possible to lose this game?

  20. this is exactly the kind of thing i've been looking for … for my daughter.

  21. As a gamer with a 5 year old step-daughter, I appreciate this episode very much.  Thanks James!

  22. I really love all of the RPG etc recommendations, but stuff like this is why I watch this show. It expands my view of what games can be good, and how to think about design for really unconventional concepts. 

  23. As someone who (possibly mistakenly) identifies as an adult, I would totally play this if it comes to Android.

  24. I'm a math teacher and I hate most math games because they are just like the most boring worksheets but on a screen.  Thanks for talking about this cool game.  I will be recommending it to lots everyone I know.  I love your thoughts on education and educational games, and I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on this.

  25. He mentioned Math Blasters…I loved that game!  Math Blasters and the show CyberChase are why I loved math so much as a kid.

  26. You are usually such a soft-spoken guy with a calming voice, so I absolutely cracked up from your introduction! xD

  27. I really need more decent educational recommendations like that one. It's a scarce business.

  28. Does anyone remember an educational game where you controlled a turret that fought off aliens using math?

  29. I'm glad that you took the time to do this video, James. Not a whole of people would recommend an educational game and it's helping for those who: 1) Might have children who they want to try this game 2) As you said, developers who are interested in creating games for educational purposes and 3) Those who quite frankly do actually want to play it. Good job, man. thumbs up

  30. Ever buy a mod to make it harder or just get what you get math only?

  31. can you imagine Pewdiepie playing this game? LOL.

  32. I can see that this can be very benificial for the learning of addition. And addition alone. Not that there's anything wrong about it, I really like the way since I don't think I've ever seen anything better at this than this. But what about subtraction, multiplication and solving linear equations? Any ideas?

  33. Reminds me of a line I heard a while ago talking about how games are interesting and cool because they are the only thing where most of the audience will actually get angry about finding it too easy.

  34. "I'm not a loser, and I'll prove it by beating you at a children's math game!" -Joey Wheeler, probably

  35. I played the first math blaster game it was my favorite game of my childhood until advance wars.

  36. downloading now for my kids who are just starting to learn math! So exciting to find this on my feed just when I need it even when the video is 3 years old!

  37. Good recommendation, James. Aspiring developers might dream of making the next Halo or Call of Duty, but sometimes, they get landed a job making the next Math Blasters. Whatever game they want to make or need to make, they should aspire to make it a good game. If a children's math game can teach developers good level progression, all game developers should take up your recommendation

  38. You've convinced me, bought and about to play it

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