Around the World Review
Posted by Zach Kaplan
Modern education generally reduces geography to simple memorisation, divorcing the subject from a sense of physicality and instead having students label countries along political boundaries and identify their capitals. Around the World takes a step in an alternative direction by challenging players to locate different things on an unlabelled illustration of the globe, and never anything larger than a city or a sea. Unfortunately, that's where the interesting variations stop, and the game provides a rather average experience otherwise.
The title includes three different modes: Point to the Closest, Quiz, and Stop-off. The first two have you choose a category between Big Cities, Geography, Wonders, Capitals of the United States and All. Only Point to the Closest is available for one player while the rest are intended for two to four, and at the end of a round, the computer shows how each has ranked.
Point to the Closest has players take turns as the computer asks them to find something on the map. You spin the globe in the same fashion as the News and Weather Channels, grabbing it with A and giving it a flick to send it flying, then grabbing it again to stop its motion. Selecting a spot by holding and releasing B, the game gives you an allotment of points based on how long it takes you to answer and how many kilometres your guess is from the requested site. You cannot swap to miles, which shouldn't affect things too much but might give American students a bit of trouble. Quiz is played in somewhat of the reverse order – the computer spins the globe and asks you to select from four different choices what site it's indicating. Stop-off is somewhat interesting, showing you two sites on the map as well as their names and asking you to select from four choices which place would provide the best point between the two to create a direct route. Their locations are shown on the map, but which name applies to which is not revealed until your selections are made. In these two modes, you're given an amount of points based on how quickly you selected the correct answer.
Around the World is flawed in the way that many trivia games are – it only gives you the questions and not any type of study guide to look over and help you prepare. It would also be nice to be able to turn names of states or countries on or off, or demarcations between states when going over United States capitals. This trivia subset is also a bit strange to utilise in Point to the Closest, considering that it allows you to select any spot on the entire globe instead of relegating you to the U.S. While it's nice to see a slightly different approach to geography that relies on location rather than matching something to its home country, students will be at a disservice as they wonder what nation or state contains the city or site they've located. Finally, the game lacks any information about the things you're asked to search for besides their geographical locations and names, severely limiting how enriching this experience can prove. We should also note that we saw a few repeat questions during our time with the game.
Presentation-wise, the globe illustration is not very detailed, though it gets the job done. There's a similarly adequate background image behind this as well, and you can select from a variety of somewhat humorously drawn yet relatively generic static illustrations for your characters. A few world music tracks play during the entire thing, and though the songs are decent, they will certainly get old after a while.
Around the World quizzes players over a limited set of information in a somewhat interesting way, ending up with a very basic and average experience. You'll be able to search for cities and sites on a globe, but you won't learn anything beyond their names and locations, including the countries where they're found. Some will enjoy the competitive factor, but overall this is a mediocre package of limited educational use.