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Math Blaster is a very welcome addition to the motivate-your-child-to-learn series of games that is currently making inroads into the DS market. If you can spare twenty minutes from your busy schedule to show your younger kids how to play, then it will certainly pay dividends as they begin to make serious forays into Math at school.
Math Blaster: in the Prime Adventure is a bit of a mouthful for a kids' game - and also a bit of a paradox, as it turns out. The game is aimed squarely at beginner mathematicians but you will definitely need to spend a little time helping anyone under the age of six understand the game play. The good news is that, once understood, the game carries a player forward without the need for any extra adult input.
What makes Math Blaster different from the current market offering is its approach to hooking you in. The Math content itself is cleverly packaged within four mini-games and bound together by a story which, while not exactly on the political scale of the revamped Battlestar Galactica, is certainly appealing in its own right. And if you're not interested in the story you can simply zip through the dialogue and get down to the Math games.
If your child likes quick, visual stimuli and timed challenges then Math Blaster will certainly hold their attention.
It should be stated that this game is particularly suitable for visual and kinaesthetic learners. If your child likes quick, visual stimuli and timed challenges then Math Blaster will certainly hold their attention. The four mini-games feel a little unfinished when you first play but it doesn't take long to get sucked in by their appeal.
Nebula Escape requires you to fly a spaceship around an increasingly complex map, hovering over numbers to answer randomly generated sums and escaping from enemy ships. Selecting the wrong number will kill you just as quickly as the bullets from the enemies. Number Smash is an against the clock affair: use the stylus to flick numbered discs at numbers floating in the top screen. If you hit one, it is divided by the number you threw at it and the result falls to the bottom screen. Collect these results to complete the level.
Chain Reactor presents a hexagonal board covered with numbers. As the clock ticks away you must add hexes together to reach a number within a set target range. Finally, there's Nest Attack - a more traditional arithmetic game where you must create the equations yourself to reach a specific number.
At the end of the day what matters is that this really does help improve mental arithmetic. Oh, and it's fun.
It's nice to be presented with a game that, without any particular fanfare, prods you to look at other ways to do arithmetic. However simplistic the mini games may look at the start, they quickly become rather difficult but because they always present similar arithmetic tasks a child can learn specific multiplication pathways by trial and error. The shoot 'em up element adds a little spice to the exercise and no level is particularly long. The game designers seem to have been well aware that even the most well-intentioned child will snap their DS shut at the drop of a hat, so progress is instantly saved and the minute you click on your profile you're back into the action. This is all very well, but at the end of the day what matters is that this really does help improve mental arithmetic. Oh, and it's fun.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: