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Challenge Me: Maths Workout

Challenge Me Maths WorkoutLet's start with the obvious stuff. Yes, I know that this is an educational game and is therefore not intended solely to be fun, and I also know that it is a horribly obvious attempt (like so many similar games on the DS platform) to cash in on the success of a certain Dr Kawashima. So why does it fail so monumentally on both accounts?

First off, let's tackle the gameplay. There are a measly two different game modes with pointlessly changeable settings, one of which involves guessing the numbers on the backs of another player's cards, the other involving the arrangement of a random sampling of different numbers and symbols to form a working equation.

Neither game comes off as being logical, with your best chance at both being to randomly guess or simply trade cards off until you get an easy solution. There's no running counter to let you know if you're improving or not, and to make matters worse there isn't even a tutorial mode so you're thrust straight into the games without knowing what the hell to do or how to accomplish it.

 Maths Workout                             Maths Workout

Younger players will simply discard the game in frustration at this point, with older gamers who persist wishing they hadn't. Do not be fooled by the 3+ PEGI rating, this game is horribly technical even for a twenty year old graduate, let alone his ten year old sister whom he originally gave the game to for testing.

The rest of the game is just as frustrating, and I mean "tear your hair out and scream" frustrating. Firstly, every action requires a double tap of the stylus, an unnecessary and tedious action that simply shouldn't be required. Other DS games realised this early on in the console's life cycle so why is it found here? The game also requires you to go through five menus before you can actually play a game. Why does it need to be so damn complicated when games like Brain Training are so simple to pick up and play?

Then there's the character selection. This is the single most pointless feature of the lot; the characters fill up less than a square centimetre on the screen and make no difference at all in-game. So why bother? It just strikes me as a shameless attempt to cutesy the game up to younger people, who will simply get bored of being confused within five minutes and go back to Animal Crossing. That's what I'd do.

 Maths Workout                             Maths Workout

I'm actually struggling to find a single redeeming feature for this game at all. The music and sounds are clear and chirpy, which is massively countered by the fact that they are as irritating as trying to give instructions to a deaf person through a cup and string system while balancing on one leg. The graphics are clear and bright but bland and empty, while the icons are scattered seemingly randomly throughout the screen in yet another effort to confuse the player.

This isn't just a poor attempt to cash in; this is an ill-thought and confusing attempt from start to finish. It's confusing for old and young players alike and lacks charm, engagement or even a hint of actual thinking requirement. Even as a purely maths game it's outdone by all of the popular titles by a country mile.

So, to sum up the game in one sentence: awful, even for an educational title.

Pros: 
  • Graphics are bright
  • Cartridge physically worked
Cons: 
  • Lack of game modes
  • No progress tracking
  • Confusing for all potential players
  • Attempts 'cute' but only manages 'annoying'

Playability:

2 out of 10

Replayability:

1 out of 10

Graphics:

3 out of 10

Sound:

2 out of 10

Overall:

2 out of 10
Canary Wundaboy | 5th May, 2009

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