Awesome for students of the Spanish language. For gamers? Not so much.
Learning tools that better your knowledge of the world, electronic or not, aren’t even part of the video game genre; still, packaging them in the form of a DS game isn’t a bad thing. If you’re studying Spanish, My Spanish Coach will likely be invaluable to your endeavor.
This game is a language learning tool - a coach – so expecting anything more than coaching would be silly. As soon as you turn on the game, the aura is that of “you're here to learn”. You’re immediately treated to a generic Spanish-styled song that doesn't change throughout the game, although it is not at all unpleasant. However, there are no awesome graphics or animations; instead, you're subject to dull colors and a female Spanish coach who I call “Sensei No-Name” (yes, I do understand that this is a Spanish game, not Japanese, but she could at least introduce herself).
Once formalities are taken care of (such as your name and gender), you’re plunged straight into a barrage of multiple-choice questions in which you’re presented with an English word and you must pick its Spanish equivalent. The purpose of this exercise is to check your personal level of experience with the Spanish language. My Spanish Coach has successfully taught me a bit of Spanish, evidenced by my improvement on scoring this test. The first time I took the test, I managed to answer a couple of basic multiple-choice questions. I took it again recently while preparing for this review, and I managed to answer more than half with ease.
My Spanish Coach’s format is basically multiple-choice questions plus a few very boring (if not extremely effective) mini-games (but we're here to learn, not have fun, right?). The game has been constructed extremely well, starting you off with numbers, moving on to the days of the week, and then teaching you about feminine and masculine words in a very easy-to-understand manner.
After the multiple-choice questions, you partake in the mini-games. One is entitled Hit-a-Word. Oh yes, it's Whack-a-Mole with words - how could you go wrong? Another is word search and you can pretty much figure out what that is. The majority of these games exhibit the same type of unimaginative boringness, but we wouldn't want to get distracted from the task of learning, now would we?
The biggest problem I have with My Spanish Coach is that it takes ages to unlock new lessons and mini-games. You must learn all the words perfectly. Some are easier to remember than others, so when you successfully 'learn' a word a certain amount of times (by finding it in multiple-choice or a mini-game) the 'perfected' bar next to that word gets filled up a little after each session. It's actually a good thing to have this, so you can see what words you're not picking up on as much as others and kick your brain to remember it next time. That being said, sticking to a single lesson on numbers or days of the week for three or more sessions is more than a little frustrating and boring.
Despite these drawbacks, the game does all it can to help you achieve your goals. One of the coolest features is “Sensei No-Name's” voice in all its clear and coherent glory pronouncing the words very nicely, and the ability to record your voice so that you can compare your pronunciation to hers. The most awesome feature, however, is the Spanish dictionary. Find a particularly useful phrase? Tell the game to remember it. I would imagine this game would be invaluable when traveling.
My Spanish Coach isn’t a game, it’s a learning tool, and it feels like one. It is slightly fun for a while, but once the novelty of a Spanish-speaking DS wears off it starts to feel more like a class than a game. However, if you are learning Spanish or wish to learn Spanish, I can’t think of a better tool to have in your hip pocket.