One of the best apps I have played with my son recently is Geography Drive USA. No doubt obvious from the name, this is an app that educates about US geography by taking players on a road (and occasional plane) trip all over the United States of America.
Players begin a game of Geography Drive USA by setting up a profile area called a garage (the app can hold up to three at any one time) and receiving a basic car and full fuel gauge before being dropped onto the US map.
In each state they visit, players will face a trivia challenge in the form of three multiple choice questions. Answering each question correctly wins you $5 and successfully answering all three grants you that State’s pass and colors it in on the map. If you fail a question, you will need to visit a new state before returning and reattempting to win that state’s pass. Your goal is to visit each state and win its pass to form a complete collection and a completely colored map.
As you travel from state to state, your fuel gauge will gradually decrease and you will soon need to visit a fuel station. Visiting will cost you $5 each time and gives you five questions where you will need to identify locations on a map such as oceans, lakes, famous trails, and mountains. As with the state questions, you are given multiple choice options, in this case, points to pick from on the map. Each question you answer correctly fills one notch on the fuel gauge.
Instead of driving, you can also choose to fly from a state containing an airport to any other airport state for a cost of $35 a ticket. Flying is more costly and less flexible (only nine states contain airports) but it becomes more useful toward the end if you still need to complete a handful of states which are spread out over the map. Because flying is the only method to reach Alaska and Hawaii, tickets to these destinations include a free return trip back to the continental United States (you cannot fly from Hawaii to Alaska or vice versa).
Some states also contain bonus games. In Hawaii, for example, you can participate in the Honolulu State Spelling Bee for free and every correct answer will earn you $3. With 50 states to spell, this is one of the best ways to earn in-game money. You can see a list of all the available mini-games and where to find them by reading the newspaper in your garage. Other ways to earn bonus cash will occasionally present themselves, such as delivering some coal from West Virginia to Maine or attending the State Fair. The fair moves around the map but when you visit you can spend $10 to play a game of either matching silhouettes to the correct state or picking the correct capital cities. Each correct answer will gain you bonus cash at the end of the game.
At any time you can return to your garage where you can spend the money you have earned on painting your car a new color ($15) or buying a new, fancier car to replace it. From here you can also read the newspaper and access your trophy case where you can view all the trophies you have earned in the game so far. Trophies can be earned from completing achievements such as answering all five fuel station questions correctly, clearing a number of states in a single drive, or saving up significant amounts of cash.
By far the most useful place you can access from the garage is the Visitor’s Center, where you can read a leaflet about each of the 50 states. These leaflets will be of enormous help when you visit the state and try to earn its pass, as they contain information about its history, geography, and commerce as well as a fact sheet which lists that state’s time zones, nickname, and postal abbreviation along with other useful points. There are also leaflets on other useful subjects such as the Great Lakes, Famous Routes, and Time Zones.
Geography Drive USA is a neat and polished game that does a fantastic job of making learning about US geography fun. My nine-year-old son (and bare in mind we live in the UK) will frequently pick it up, even months after initially downloading it, to play through a few states and come back to me with interesting facts. I have also noticed that he has a better understanding of US geography in general now, often recognizing locations on TV and having some context of where they are.
Geography Drive USA is also fun for adults as the facts it presents are not at all dumbed down—ask me how many times it took me to complete my state pass for North Dakota… I would love to see a version of this game for other parts of the world such as a drive across mainland Europe and I feel that it would pair very well with Mapominoes USA for geography support at home.
All in all, Geography Drive USA is an excellent game that is bursting with content and worth every cent of its bargain $2.99 price tag.
GeekMom received this item for review purposes.