If you were to tell me that finding random places on an unlabeled map could be addictive and fun, I would have laughed at you. Very hard. Then you would have shown me Globetrotter XL, and I would have been forced to stop laughing and then admit your superiority over me.
Lucky for me, I already know about Globetrotter XL, and having been sucked in by its deceptive appeal I now know better than to laugh at people that walk around and randomly tell other people that geography can be fun. Ha ha! I bet it is you now looking at me like I'm a lunatic! Don't be so smug.
Globetrotter is as simple as it gets. You're given a map and you're given a location, and you must click on where you think that location is on the map. Sure, this is easy if you're looking for New York, United States or London, England, but good luck with Tunis, Tunisia on your first go, and believe me, Australia can be trickier than you may think.
There are ten levels, and for each level you get a set number of locations, and a point goal. Meet the goal, by getting as close to the location as you possibly can, and you advance. Fail to meet the point goal, and it's back to the very beginning for you.
Oh, yeah, and then on level 7, the borders between nations disappear. Good luck with that.
Analysis: I first have to mention that Globetrotter XL is a clone of a Facebook application that has been out for a while: Traveler IQ Challenge. Each variation has its good points and its bad points.
For Globetrotter, the nice large map is definitely a plus, as is the geological definition. When the borders get taken away, sometimes the only thing that you can use to find the inland locations are the visible geological formations.
Another positive is the soundtrack (which can be muted if you find it getting on your nerves). As you hunt down Burkina Faso, your ears are treated to a wide spectrum of music, from a funky disco beat to a track that sounds like it was ripped straight from one of Final Fantasy VII's darker scenes.
But the most intriguing thing is the game itself. I still don't fully understand why it's so compelling. It's an e-version of sticking thumb tacks in a map on a cork board. And yet, you feel driven to push further, because now you remember which country Zambia is, and you're not going to screw it up this time! To this effect, the levels with their point goals add to the addiction. Falling short of the next level by only a hundred points practically guarantees another go because you were this close!
There are a few things that I think Globetrotter could have done better. For one, an achievement system could have helped. Unless you are a geography savant, it'll take you forever to beat the game, but once you've finally completed level 10, there's very little incentive to do it all over again.
Also, the point system could use some work. Instead of awarding points proportional to the distance between your guess and the actual location, the system here is somewhat tiered. You get about 500 points for getting a strike (hitting the target dead on) or being very close to a strike, you get about 300 points for being close, and anything outside of close range is about 150 points or less. This is most noticeable when you need only four hundred points to make it to the next level, but because there are no four hundred point scores you essentially need a strike to move on.
But aside from this, Globetrotter XL remains a surprisingly addictive experience. If this game (*cough* or maybe the internet in general *cough*) were around when I was in grade school, I might have done a whole lot better in geography.