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Rosetta Stone’s products immerse you in the language you are learning with its innovative teaching method and lessons that force you to think like a native speaker. Rosetta Stone Arcade Academy, a free-to-play iOS educational game, attempts to build on the foundation of the computer-based language courses by introducing some gaming components as it teaches you the basics of Spanish. The result, unfortunately, is a frustrating experience that often distracts more than it enlivens the process of learning.
Arcade Academy consists of playing through various mini-games that introduce a word or a phrase, and then task you with either finding its definition or completing sentences. Once you clear a game, you can check your answer to find out what the word or phrase means before moving on to the next one. This immersive method doesn’t hold your hand, so you are bound to make mistakes the first few times. It’s a typical Rosetta Stone experience that may not work for everyone, but what makes it even harder to swallow is the lack of a structured lesson plan. The game tracks which material you’re mastering, but doesn’t let you practice on specific words or phrases. Learning simply consists of playing random mini-game after mini-game and memorizing the words you see.
This wouldn’t be so bad if Arcade Academy stuck to just teaching you the language rather than incorporating poorly designed mini-games you must clear to continue. The Story and Infinite modes both challenge you to survive for as long as you can without making too many mistakes, but the problems stem from the games themselves rather than the material. One mini-game, for example, requires you to guide someone through an electric maze to reach the correct word. Even if you know the answer, its controls are so wonky and there are often so many obstacles to overcome that you might think the game is setting you up for failure. Learning a new language is hard enough as it is without all of the extra interference.
The bottom line. Arcade Academy admirably attempts to make learning Spanish feel like a game, but its poor gaming mechanics fail to make it fun or educational.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 6.0 or later
Colorful visuals and cut-scenes.
Frustrating mini-games mar the learning experience. Motion controls aren’t always responsive. No real sense of progress.