New Wii Ware games educational and fun

The fun and frivolity of holiday festivities has ended. Kids are back in school, seriously counting the down the days to the last big hiatus before summer – spring break.

Help them stay in serious mode with games that combine fun with education. Look no further than your Wii for games that are not just good for them but engaging, easy for you to access and cost effective.

Your Wii has what’s called a Wii Shop Channel, which connects you to Wii Ware, a virtual console with about 130 games of all varieties for instant downloading. Of course, your Wii has to be connected to the Internet. Connecting is easy, especially if you have wireless in your home. However directions for wireless and wired connections are available online at us.wii.com/connect. You can watch a tutorial and within minutes (took me less than three minutes) transform your Wii from a single-function gaming device to a multi-dimensional entertainment center where you can surf the Web, access more games, get news, weather and even Netflix connectivity.

Once you have Wii connectivity to the Internet, you need a Nintendo Club membership (club.nintendo.com), which requires username, password and the serial number of any Nintendo product. You then link your Club membership with your Wii and can start purchasing points and downloading games.

I purchased 2000 points for $20 and downloaded the newest educational Wii Ware game (released Dec. 29, 2011), Carmen Sandiego Adventures in Math: The Big Ben Burglary for 600 points, or $6 (100 points =$1).

This is a mathematic and geographic learning game under the guise of a whodunit mystery. Players (up to 6) are challenged to travel the globe searching for the most villainous of them all, Carmen Sandiego. Through hints and puzzle solving, discover who the real thief of London’s largest landmark, Big Ben, really is – Carmen and/or one of her gang.

Each player is a sleuth with ACME detective agency. Using a phone with a map identifying where you’ve been and where you might need to go, scan for highlighting clues and track your hint points, used to buy hints and collect information as you solve parts of the mystery. You also acquire reputation points that increase your title from detective to full blown agent.

The Wii Remote is the only Wii device needed. Most of the game is played with “A,” but “B” is required occasionally. There’s some clicking and dragging, too. Players have to solve math equations including fractions and use logic to achieve higher levels of play. It’s cute, fun, entertaining and really good for fourth and fifth graders.

I also downloaded Around the World released Dec. 27, 2011, for 500 points ($5). This is a basic geography game for up to four players that offers three modes of play.

First, there’s Point to the Closet, which gives players category choices – big city, geography, wonders, capitals of the United States and all. Get points for getting close to the location provided. This is probably the funniest mode to play with multi-players.

Second, there is Quiz mode, which asks questions within the same categories. It’s geography trivial pursuit, essentially.

Third, Stop Off mode gives you the name of two location and four choices for you to determine the best point between the two original locations to create a direct route.

Wii Remote is the only device required and “A” is the main button of operation.

For gamers, even young ones, used to storylines, lots of characters and fast action, Around the World will disappoint. It’s educational, and there’s no hiding it. However, if kids need to learn geography, Around the World beats the heck out of staring at maps in one-dimensional textbooks.

Enhance your Wii with Wii Shop Channel by connecting to the Internet and gaining access to Wii Ware. It could enhance your kiddo’s learning.

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