It can be easy for the casual gamer to write off math games, whether for android or ios mobile devices or simple browser-based examples, all because they can be tarred with the “educational” brush. Often if you hear that something is educational then the immediate assumption is that it’s not going to be as fun as a game that doesn’t involve you using a significant part of your logical brain. This is nonsense of course, with the proof to refute this assumption existing in the App Store and Google Play Store. There’s not an abundance of truly sensational maths mobile games however, which is why this article has highlighted only the apps that are truly worth your time regardless of your gaming background or mathematical ability.
Here is a game that has a unique gameplay mechanic at its heart, with the main premise being that you have to drag the target number (located in the grey-coloured circles) across set tracks consisting of circles with a white background that also contain numbers. When you drag the larger target numbers over each circle, the number in the circle is subtracted from the number in the target circle. Your aim here is to get the target number to zero, though this is much easier said than done due to the increasingly challenging nature of the game’s 45 or so levels.
It’s nice when a maths game can present an unique concept that can hook you in rather than just recycling the same equations or sum-based games with a slightly different aesthetic and an unoriginal idea – take this soccer maths equation game for example – resulting in disappointment. Sum Tracks has its concept and its minimalistic design going for it as well as its gently increasing difficulty and its accessibility.
Now here’s a game that’s light on the sum but heavy on the fun. 2048 is an unbelievably inventive concept whose brilliance is superseded by its sheer simplicity. The game involves a 4x4 tile grid that’s initially empty, but which fills up with one tile with each swipe left, down, up, or right. The tiles that appear always have either a 2 or a 4 on them, and it is up to you to attempt to try and manipulate the tiles around the limited spaces (16 in total) in order to try and make 2048. Bear in mind that when you slide two tiles with identical numbers on them into each other they merge into one tile that displays the sum of the two component tiles. Merging two ‘2’ tiles makes a 4 tile, two ‘16’ tiles makes 32, two 512 tiles 1024 and so on.
This game is ridiculously addictive because it is both simple to learn yet takes a fair bit of playing in order to be mastered. It’s not hugely educational however because it’s really just a case of matching numbers rather than actually working out sums. Gabriele Cirrulli is the inventor of this game, and the official 2048 game page should be visited in favour of the many imitations out there.
With only around 5000 downloads on the Apple Store, Marble Math is quite an unassuming app that you probably wouldn’t cross the page to download. This is a shame because it’s an educational amusement masterpiece waiting to be discovered. The gameplay is focused exclusively on multiplication, though the more important feature is the game’s propensity for making things both accessible and fun to play.
As the name suggests, Marble Math has you controlling a marble through various maze-like structures. It has all the elements of a classic marble maze, only you’re navigating the marble through the maze to collect the correct answer to the sum displayed at the top. Watch out for the many pitfalls, wrong answers, teleportation points, and point-deducting holes however, as these all have an effect on your progress and therefore your score! With plenty of options such as the choice between dragging the marble using your finger or using the tilt-sensing capability of your phone, Artgig Studio’s mathematical maze medley will have you coming back for more.
Though you’ve got games such as Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training that pioneered the mental-improvement games of recent years, Math Workout is a great alternative that focuses solely on arithmetic. There is no pretence here; the game doesn’t go through the rigmarole of providing a flashy interface or a unique concept. Instead, you’re given various options such as Multiplication & Division, Addition & Subtraction, and a variety of medley modes in order to sharpen your math skills.
What stands out here – and this is a feature that the other games above are definitely lacking – is this game’s Online World Challenge which lets you put your skills up against those of others so that you’re constantly improving.