If you have been following the reviews that I have written over the past three months, you would have known that I am a math geek. I loved math ever since I was in the fifth grade, and I've always enjoyed reviewing math apps for juniors. That's why when the Spinlight Studios requested us to review their math apps, I was keen to give it a try.
In addition to seven different combinations of algebra operations that you can choose, you also get to choose the difficulty level.
Operation Math Code Squad
Operation Math Code Squad is an iPad game that is created based on another Spinlight's math game, entitled Operation Math. Instead of playing as a single agent who is trying to stop Dr. Odd's evil plan to eliminate the world's even numbers, this Code Squad edition allows up to four players to play in a single seating, solving math equations, before the time bomb explodes.
At the start of the game, you will be given seven choices of operations to choose from, showing any combinations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. After selecting the operation you want to play, you will be given three difficulty levels to choose from. Because this app is designed to be played by juniors as young as 5-years old, all operations are binomial (i.e. involving two operands). They also are using numbers up to 12 for multiplication/division, and up to 20 for addition/subtraction.
Once you have selected the operation and difficulty level, you're ready to start the mission. Each mission consists of five stages. Even though each stage must be completed in 60 seconds or less, they have an increasing number of math equations that you (and the other players) need to solve. The first stage requires you complete seven equations, the next stage has 11 equations, and the last three stages require 15, 19, and 23 equations respectively. A total of 75 equations need to be solved in five minutes to win the mission, i.e. disarm the time bomb.
The mission can be played by one or more players. There are four virtual keypads on all sides of the iPad allowing up to four players to play simultaneously. The equations will be shown in a spinning wheel, giving a fair chance for all players to view the equations in the orientations that are easily readable for them. You can also choose to play the game in a head-to-head 2-player mode or a 3-way battle. Usually, the more players you have, the better chance you have at completing the mission.
If you (and the other players) are unable to complete all the equations in any of the 60-second stage, the mission is failed. The game also takes into account the number of mistakes each player has made in each stage. Each player is allowed to have up to five mistakes in each stage. If a player has made four mistakes, he will be given a warning by the narrative voice. When the player reaches five mistakes, his keypad will be disconnected from the spinning wheel, preventing him to enter his answers for that stage. He will be able to rejoin the game in the next stage, assuming the other players can finish the current stage.
At the end of the game, regardless whether you are successful or not, the game will provide a statistic of how well each player has performed throughout the game. You will be able to see the stats for each stage and how you are ranked among other players. The game will take into account the number of correct equations you have solved in each stage, and as a total in the entire game.
At the end of the game, Operation Math Code Squad shows you how each player performed in each stage and their final ranking.
What parents need to know
Even though Operation Math Code Squad has a cooperative premise of several players working together to solve 75 questions, you would feel that the game is very competitive. The simultaneous-action aspect of the game and the ranking at the end of the game have geared the game towards a competition between the player. Once you know about this, it might be better for you to pair your juniors to play with friends (or opponents) that have similar math skills - to keep the game and competition interesting.
The game supports solo-play (which is good for individual practice), head-to-head, and up to 4-players battle. I have tried to play a cooperative game by taking turns answering the equations as the spinning wheel turning towards your orientation, but it made the game less interesting. It's the fast-paced simultaneous-action aspect of the game that makes it interesting to play with other players.
This is a photo I took while three of my colleagues are playing the game. It's a really fun game.
What I like about the game
Operation Math Code Squad is very responsive. Imagine that in the last stage of a mission, up to four players are trying to solve 23 math equations. With four or more fingers tapping on the iPad at one point in time, the game is able to identify which player scores the right answer first and which player gets it wrong (or late).
The game also takes into account the rectangular form-factor that the iPad has. At first, you might think that you would be at an advantage if you're playing on the wider side of the iPad, but it turns out that the virtual keypads on each side are of the same width. The game is designed to have the keypads snapped to the sides of the iPad, to avoid the players' fingers to interfere with each other.
Because the keypads are snapped to the sides of the iPad, there are extra space between the spinning wheel and the keypads on the narrow side of the iPad. The game designers cleverly put the additional information into this area, i.e. the time meter counting down the 60 seconds, and the compass-like pointing needle which is used to point to the player who got the last equation correctly first.
If you're paying attention to the details, you would also notice the pin markers surrounding the spinning wheel. These markers show the number of equations that have to be solved in each stage, i.e. 7, 11, 15, 19, and 23. The pins will change its color to green when an equation has been solved. These details; in addition to the engaging narration and spy-themed background music; add to the overall gaming experience.
This is what it looks like at the start of the game. Anyone can join the game at anytime.
I really enjoyed playing this game. I can testify that even adults would enjoy this game. I believe Operation Math Code Squad would be a great activity app for your juniors to practice math with their friends. It is indeed a fun and fast-paced math game for everyone.
Because I love the game so much, I also have some feature requests to add to this awesome game. In addition to simple improvements such as enlarging the cancel/enter buttons, I believe the developer can add additional math operations without having the need to change the virtual keypad design. Here are some examples that I can think of: tallies counting, equations involving roman numerals, and equations involving negative numbers. I'm sure some of these would be a wonderful addition without forcing the spinning wheel to change drastically.
Get it on the App Store: iPad
App was provided for our honest review