The notorious Dr. Thanatopsis Dread, to lend credibility to his bid for world domination, has employed devious means to convince the world that grand American accomplishments (1492-1905) are actually the work of his distinguished ancestors. The mysterious Benefactor has invited YOU! to join a crack team of whiz kids in his subterranean lab at Sea Cliff Manor to help restore the historical record to the (more-or-less) legitimacy we know today.
Playing much like an enhanced remake of Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?, this game will see you wearing a rut in the virtual floor of Sea Cliff Manor, beating paths between Amanda's room (with its TimeLine machine, to establish whens), Josh's chamber (featuring the GeoFax, to get a better sense of where), and the time-traveling booth of a robot cat, who conducts and then projects interviews gotten back in the timestream to help get a fix on the biographical information regarding who was at the heart of the contentious event.
The game features abundant in-game help, lavish production values, compelling cut-scenes and scores of easter eggs.
As the very name of the producer of the game implies, the target group for their products are people wanting/needing to learn. The products would therefore fit perfectly in the edutainment genre.
This time you are going to learn (or more likely just brush up on the facts you already know - even if you're not American and US history isn't your major interest) about some of the most important events in American history.
The premise of the game is very simple. The evil Dread has started broadcasting false information about major historic events of the US history and it's up to the Time Riders to put a stop to it (by broadcasting correct information).
You will need to do three things in order to broadcast the correct information. You will need to select the correct year of the event that was falsely presented by Dread, you will have to locate the place where the event took place and you will need to select the person involved in the event. For instance you will need to go back to Boston in the year of 1770 and state that Paul Revere engraved the Boston massacre at the time. Don't worry, if you're paying attention you can't get it wrong.
The game features high quality graphics, but only basic sounds and the background melody is somewhat weak. The game is entirely mouse controlled. The technical aspects of the game are really well done, but the gameplay is well... how should I put it... they're just, err..., childish! I guess that has something to do with the target population this game is aimed at (probably children aged between 5 and 8).
Still I gave it a high mark and I do feel I need to justify it. As a teacher of history I see a lot of good this game can do in popularization of history itself (even if in this case only US history). Still this game could be quite a useful tool for teaching parts of history. People should have at least a vague idea when and where some important events involving well know historical figures took place. And who knows, maybe even people who think they know history can learn some background trivia.
Another outstanding edutainment title from The Learning Company, Time Riders in American History teaches history of the United States in such a captivating way that kids will not realize that they're learning something :) Designed for kids ages 7 to 12, the game's educational content is much more in-depth than the ever-popular Where in Carmen Sandiego? games, with many photos, interesting anecdotes, and colorful historical characters. As in most other games from TLC, mini-games are arcade-oriented integrated with historical facts, and are not too difficult. As always, on-line hints provide ample help for young historians should they get stuck. Overall, another great old game that was sadly overlooked.
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