WHILE the majority of games we play tend to be for entertainment or competition – or both – they’re also a great educational tool as well.
Gamers of a Certain Age may remember playing things like Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego? or Oregon Trail or even the Sim City games at school – and that’s not to mention all the stuff we tried to pass off as “educational” to our parents.
In retrospect, I realise now that Dad knew full well Wolfenstein 3D was not a historically accurate look at WWII – in fact, upon further reflection, he seemed awfully keen on making sure we had a computer which could run Battle of Britain and Red Baron – but my point is that educational games have a long history
This brings us to the subject of this review: Mathland, developed and published by Artax Games for the Nintendo Switch.
The game’s blurb on the Nintendo store sums it up pretty well:
“An evil pirate, Max, has stolen the sacred gems and has cursed the islands filling them with obstacles and traps.
Help Ray, our pirate, find the gems and restore the natural order of things. Navigate your ship through the seas to get them, but remember: you will need a spyglass to discover new islands.
Solve fun math games to get them: addition, subtraction, numbering, multiplication tables, and division. The islanders need you!”
Maths is up there with vegan food and sportsball on the “Things that make me want to depart from a room with all haste” list, but fortunately I have a primary-school aged son who is learning about maths and was the perfect candidate to test the game for me.
Mathland (and the American spelling grates even as I type it) is a colourful affair, combining an adventure puzzle game with (wait for it) maths.
The game asks for your age when you set it up, and adjusts the difficulty accordingly – and seemed to do a reasonable job.
The puzzles required thinking but weren’t ridiculously difficult – they covered things like addition, subtraction and multiplication – and were varied, including working out remainders, competing against the clock, and working out the correct answer from a decreasing pool of possibilities.
The pirate themeing also helped – what small child doesn’t think pirates are cool? – and tied into things nicely too.
My son’s verdict of the game was that “it’s full of maths”, but he found the pirate stuff and the adventure elements quite engaging and liked being able to solve maths problems to get keys to unlock rewards.
I had a play with the game too, and while it’s clearly aimed at children, there’s potential for parents playing along with their kids to get some mental exercise out of it too.
Mathland isn’t going to turn you into a Nobel Prize winner or anything, but it’s educational, it’s engaging, and it has pirates in it – so it ticks the boxes there for its intended audience.