Today’s gadgets are often a great source of wasting time, especially for kids. Many complain that all of these games and mindless fun keep the youth from learning the important things. Who wants to study math flash cards when an iPhone or iPod Touch is sitting there loaded with games? As an educator, I love to see games that build knowledge especially in children. I remember the pain I felt when my parents forced me to sit down and memorize my flash cards. I also remember the joy I felt when my friend’s parents would let us play Math Blaster on his Apple IIe. I kind of see Math Ninja as the modern equivalent of those simple games that kept us learning math skills. Not sure what is better, playing a game to practice math or playing a game as a ninja!
The game is played as Haraku who is a Math Ninja and must protect the math treasure from Tomato-San, the arch rival. Haraku protects the treasure from his tree house as Tomato-San attacks with his bots. Basically, the kids get to play a tower defense style game that encompasses math problems to finish the level and fight Tomato-San. As the bots approach the tree house, tap them to shoot weapons.
As the game progresses, the bots become more difficult to fight and your weapons must be upgraded as more money is earned. Not only can new weapons be purchased throughout the game, but each weapon has multiple layers of upgrades to make them more effective.
The math problems come in at the end of each level. Most of the problems will be used to fight Tomato-San, inflicting damage with each correct answer. Different options are available to set the difficulty level as well as what types of problems. Mixing the defense style game play with the math problems at the end of each level is a great idea so the kids will feel like it really is a game. If a problem is missed, their player loses nothing. The correct answer is provided and must by entered before moving on. Completing all of the problems will complete the level.
Math Ninja does a great job of balancing video game play with testing math skills into a cute and fun application. This is a great alternative to old-fashioned flash cards to bring some fun into a daunting homework task. I am a big believer in incorporating the fun of our modern devices into education. Today’s youth will grow up using technology in all facets of their life. Education should work hand in hand to not only build the skills needed for the youth but also prepare them to use all of the tools available.
What I like: Combining fun game play with math skills is genius. Much better than old flash cards.
What could be improved: I would like to see Tomato-San hit back more and be more difficult to defeat.