The best educational games are ones that kids would choose to play anyway because they're enjoyable, well made and easy to play. Elemons is a great example of this kind of game.
Elemons is a simple card game with element-based characters that battle each other with the help of additional heating and cooling cards that change their states (and their abilities to conquer each other).
Gas engulfs Solid, Solid splashes Liquid, Liquid disperses Gas.
Players battle each other with their character cards and cooling cards, trying to steal each other's cards. The first player with ten steals wins the game.
Helium has become Helimon. Hydrogen is Hydromon. Add a cooling card to Bromon and he turns from a liquid to a solid. Add a heating card and he turns to a gas.
Think Pokemon meets rock-paper-scissors meets the Periodic Table of Elements and you have a basic feel for this game.
The first deck in the series is designed to be played alone but will also be part of an ongoing set of games that will further develop the Elemons world.
Game designer Eiman Munro explains:
“The first game introduces 12 unique Elemons in STATE MODE where players use the rock paper scissors game applied to solid, liquid and gas. The twist is that players can then heat or cool their Elemons to change states."
She goes on to say:
“Eventually we will have a series of mini games with a story for each line of games introducing new properties as powers. There is a lot going on in the background but we aim to simplify it all and make it exciting and the characters endearing."
The company has also created a free Elemons game app.
My husband and nine-year-old son, Jack, have been playing the game ever since it arrived. Jack asks to play frequently, and he's also turned his five-year-old brother into a fan.
Jack is an avid Pokemon player but says Elemons is his "favorite card game of all time." The fact that he has an uncanny ability to beat his father may be part of the reason, but he also says he likes the strategy involved and how easy it is to play.
I really like the art on the cards, and how well thought out the characters are. I like the fact that kids have an equal chance of winning (or better, if they're particularly good at anticipating their opponents' moves and remembering what's been played) and I like the educational content that is worked in.
The descriptions of each character's personalities are especially well done. For instance:
Natrimons are excitable characters, reacting wildly to the slightest provocation. Despite their chaotic nature they work well with many other Elemons and are considered lots of fun to be around.
I would like to see female characters added. Future developments in the story line involve families of the Elemons (such as Noble and Anoma) and I'm hoping female elements will be worked in then.
You can read more reviews at Geek Mom and The Little Metal Dog Show. Kids can learn much more of the Elemons world and back story at the story area of the Elemons site, where they can also sign up for story updates.
The starter deck is priced £7.99 and £2.99 shipping, for a total of £10.98 (about $16.77 in U.S. dollars). There is no additional postage fee to ship to the U.S. or Canada. You can order through the Elemons site, where you can purchase it via PayPal.