For those boomers who want to relive Inner Space, BodyQuest makes it possible – alas, without 80s Meg Ryan – as you save your friend, and humanity, from a disease from outer space.
I take great pleasure in covering educational games on this site for several reasons. One: I’m a parent. Two: I used to be a teacher. That said, I don’t command the same respect as teachers deserve, as a bit of a klutz.
When the news hit my digital desk about BodyQuest, from Artax Games, immediately the child in me started coming up with invasive anecdotes about inserting items into the body, fart jokes, and all that puerile humour you can expect from a knight that is vulgar. But the concept was intriguing too.
Selecting from one of four young scientists/doctors, you discover that your friend has been sidelined by a rather nasty disease that’s derived from outer space. With the spread imminent, you need to stop it, find a cure and protect the human race. Save your claps for later.
This is a bit topical, but this is aimed at children and an educational piece that features the number one ingredient: fun. Cue the Inner Space reference as you shrink your bodies down to be inserted into said pal’s system as you dive deep into the molecular structure that makes up the human body.
Unlike the 80s movie reference, the heroes in BodyQuest navigate using a hoverboard. I guess we could come back to another 80s classic, but the name escapes me. Bigfoot and the Hendersons? Anyhoo, you surf around the inside of the human body without it being disgusting, collecting orbs and learning facts along the way.
On first impressions, I felt the visuals were a little amateurish. Sorry, that was the initial reaction, but a kneejerk to the relatively weak introduction to the story. Once you’re into the game, the visuals really pop and resemble something out of an Usbourne book, portrayed in an isometric manner. The characters have a slight Beano aesthetic too, which was great.
Colours are vibrant, and body parts are imaginatively recreated with smiley faces and menacing ones for those that are contaminating the system with ‘alien technology. It’s super easy to navigate, and for a simple setup, it’s sharp and responsive as you stream around on your board, picking up items to unlock the next part of the body.
Each level has an introductory piece of text that introduces the task at hand, ‘collect this and that’, but it moves rather too quickly for my liking. Playing with my children, the 10-year-old could read for herself, but when attempting to read to my 3-year-old, the text would disappear too quickly. The same with some of the facts that you unlock through progression. However, you can return to the game hub and view everything you collected once more.
To turn that into a positive, the pace is spot on. Other than avoiding some of the nasties, each stage never lags where it loses the kids’ attention, and if that sign of complacency creeps up, the kids (and adults) are tested on their general knowledge.
This was the part in the BodyQuest gameplay that universally drew the whole family. For the eldest, she was trying to pull off that pre-teen suave like she doesn’t care but got stuck in as she’s currently learning about the central nervous system. For my wife, it was new vocabulary (non-native English – they have bones in her country), and for me, it was the same. I didn’t know the Latin name of a body part, for example. There’s no shame in not knowing these things, and for that reason, BodyQuest was genuinely engaging.
Because we were playing with the kids, we would often dive headfirst into the gameplay, not realising that you can ‘study’ the facts before going in. On each level, you will get multiple-choice questions about the chapter you’re working through. For each answer you get right, you’re awarded diplomas. These, along with the orbs (whose name I suddenly forget) act as currency for customising your BodyQuest characters.
As always stated, I’m a slave to customisations, but it was my youngest who folded in this scenario. She would frequently swap out the boards and sunglasses, passing the controller to daddy to help unlock some of the other areas so she could purchase some new gear, then shout at the invaders as she blasted them with her gun.
BodyQuest is a family game aimed at children but best played together as you can genuinely puck up some truths you may not have known. No opportunity is wasted as the loading screens offer up facts too, and a bucketload of parents will be pleased to see that. It’s like an animated version of a YoYo Bear.
As it stands, I’ve been sneaking back into the game to unlock extras and to perfect the questions we’ve got wrong when there’s the time. On that basis alone, it’s one of the best educational games you can play on the Switch right now. Learn, while having fun – that’s a science that Artax Games have managed to grasp really well.
- Informative and inspiring.
- Facts during loading screens and accessible throughout.
- Lovely in-game visuals.
- Adults can learn a few things too!
- Lovely in-game visuals and animations.
- You have to be quick to read the text.
- The story is a bit surplus.
- Some action sequences tricky for younger kids – same for the vocabularly.