Format reviewed: Commodore 16/Plus4
Submitted by: Clarance Frank
Now there may be a few of you out there of a certain age that may be familiar with Mathletics. It's an online maths learning tool for youngsters aged 5 and upwards which is tremendously successful at encouraging kids, who would otherwise be more interested in killing stuff online, to number crunch with their keyboard.
Computer edutainment has come a long way since most of us were kids, but 8 + 2 still equals 11, as it did in 1984, and in that year Paramaths (packaged along with another learning title, Sandcastles) was released by Commodore for the C16, in an attempt to convince parents that computers could be used not just for mind numbing kill, kill, kill computer games, but also for IQ enhancing software that would trick little Johnny into learning without realizing it.
Of course there's no on-line competition here, but two players can compete against each other with this 'Education Cassette' for 5-11 year olds. Paramaths finds finds your child flying what looks suspiciously like a Spitfire over the sea (presumably the English Channel), shooting at unseen targets (Although probably Messerschmitts me thinks). A parachute is suddenly released from the underside of our flyboy's fighter, and, um… … a sum is displayed on screen. Don't worry though parents, this flagrant intrusion by learning wont break little Johnny's jingo-fueled wartime fantasy at his computer screen – I know, I have tested this on little Clarance… Before the sum-chute hits the sea, the answer must be keyed in to score a point, and then its over to your opponent to attempt the same daring mission. It's as simple as that.
Various options are available – the level of difficulty can be tweaked for either player, making it possible to handicap one player so that all ages and abilities can compete together on a more equal killing field.
And the thing is, it works – thinly disguised as it is as a 'game', this piece of edutainment really works. Little Clarance still has no idea he is learning. Although he still prefers Medal of Honor…