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A light parody of edutainment games, December 13, 2018
Let's Explore Geography! is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a light parody of edutainment games. It elicited several chuckles from me while I was playing, and I made it to day 24 in Victoria before stopping. (I actually visited Victoria for real this summer, for the first time ever. I was hoping to visit Butchart Gardens again in the game. Sadly, I had to settle for whale-watching. :) )
The game itself consists of traveling from city to city across the vast expanse of Canada, buying and selling different commodities and visiting various tourist attractions in the cities. So you're doing exactly what the title promises: You're exploring Canada, and you're trading.
I think the introduction has a nice "feel," with the email instructions for starting the game, the teachers' manual, and the map. Speaking of which, the map adds greatly to the enjoyment of the game; I'm glad the author included it. (I'm also a sucker for maps.)
The bright, bland, boosterism of the language was amusing, and certain lines landed particularly well. My two favorites:
1. "Still, you can't help but feel a little... unfulfilled. Sure, 'commodities trader' sounds like an exciting job, but you spend most of your work day looking at graphs and making spreadsheets. You secretly dream of leaving the office, of seeing the world, of buying lumber in person instead of virtually through derivatives transactions."
2. "You ride a cable car up the cliff to 'Le Manoir Montmorency' and head to the interpretation center, which helpfully informs you that the name means 'Montmorency Manor'."
The game reminded me some of playing Oregon Trail in the 1980s in my 7th grade homeroom teacher's class. In both games you're traveling across a large chunk of North America, with the same small list of options available to you at each location. You can buy things in Oregon Trail, too, although I can't remember whether you can sell them. A big difference, of course, is that you can't die of dysentery in Let's Explore Geography!. (At least I think you can't. Maybe that's a secret level of the game. Or, if not, perhaps an idea for Release 2? :D)
An oddly satisfying moment:
(Spoiler - click to show)Reaching Yorkton and finally offloading that pallet of wigs that I had been schlepping around since Charlottetown!
I found it amusing that (Spoiler - click to show)a pallet of diamonds is available for $30 million. Earning enough money to purchase that would take a lot of patience!
Also, the weird dreams, followed by "What a strange dream!" after each night made me chuckle several times.
I think I actually learned a little bit of Canadian geography by playing this game.
A final comment: Let's Explore Geography! came in 74th out of 77 games in IFComp 2018. I think the game is much better than that. I suspect a lot of the reason it placed so low is that gameplay is rather repetitive: You're selecting from the same small set of actions, over and over.