The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

With so many products available we often need a little help in making our curriculum choices. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine family understands because we are in the same boat! Do you need more information on a product before you buy? With over 5,500 products listed in 52 easy-to-use categories, much of the information you need to know is only a click away! Let our reviewer-families help yours.
Do you want to get the word out about your product or service to the homeschool community? Email Tess Hamre and share a little about what you´d like showcased, and we can help with that!

Chariot's Game (online download) Review by Jennifer Harrison

Laurene Wells
Heaven's Blessings Tiny Zoo, LLC

Chariots is a computer game that allows you to compete in races on the ancient island of Cyprus. Players explore the island's 13 cities by racing on foot, on horseback, or with chariots. Mounts, vehicles, and other items are earned throughout the quest. It is a family-friendly game for children age 7 through adult. Younger children could play, but they would need assistance with reading the necessary text in the game. The game was created by Heaven's Blessings Tiny Zoo, LLC, a Christian company that desires to provide fun and clean games that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

That is an excellent premise, but the game quality falls sadly short. The system requirements are steep for the quality of this game. XP is recommended, though there is a Vista work-around. I attempted it on a Windows 7 machine, and it functioned somewhat but not well. However, it didn't work much better with XP. In addition to XP, the game requires 2 GB of RAM. This isn't terribly uncommon, but XP computers that are three years old or older are less likely to have that much memory. Considering the System Requirements specified for this game (2 GB of RAM, 400mb Hard Drive Space, DirectX 9c), one would expect high-quality graphics and intricate playability. Unfortunately, the playing is stilted and awkward, and the graphics are grainy and unpolished.

My family attempted to play the game on four different computers, and we were only successfully able to play it on one of these. On that one computer, the load time was consistently five minutes before being able to play. At the beginning of this load, a narrator describes the game scenario. This narration sounds like it is being read by a woman suffering from a sinus infection. The words are understandable, but the sound is unprofessional. Once this is finished, players begin with a practice track to learn how to work the game, but no instructions are given to assist you. Once you begin exploring, the map is confusing. Players are given no indication of where they are on the map. There is no story line or purpose other than winning races. When you win races, you acquire horses and chariots. After traveling to four different cities, I managed to acquire a chariot--but no horse to go with it. There is no line-up before a race; runners simply drop from the sky. The races themselves are dull at best. A Christmas-themed race came with a description of having a unique and meaningful allegory. I couldn't find it. The racetrack consisted of cookies, cakes, and candies. The most meaningful object on the track was a fruitcake the size of a mini-van. I may have been able to discover more meaning had the game not crashed every 10 minutes. At one point, I was able to play for a full 20 minutes before it crashed, but this was a singular experience. Once the game crashes, you have to endure the five-minute load time once more and then start back at the beginning. Records are kept of your winnings, but you always begin in the same place, regardless of what city you were able to progress to in a previous session.

The cost for a downloadable version of this game is $19.95, which is a great price compared to the average computer game released recently. However, this game is less competitive than a game released two years ago, and it is downright expensive for a game that has such poor quality. It is an admirable idea: clean family fun. Unfortunately, this game left out the fun.

Product review by Jennifer Harrison, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2010