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“Mathogen” iPhone Game Review


Even without a big budget or a big name attached to them, some games on the App Store stand out because of (gasp!) the quality of their gameplay. Mathogen is one of those games. Making math as fun as a video game is no easy task, but this ingenious indie title has done just that.

The core gameplay is the same in each of the five modes (Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, and Mixed) – touch the bubble containing the answer to the equation presented at the top of the screen. Touching the wrong answer results in an extra bubble being added to the playing field, which can make it harder to find the answers you need when you’re racing against the timer in the final seconds of the game. Each round starts with a different time limit depending on which difficulty you choose (Easy = 60 seconds, Medium = 50 seconds, Hard = 40 seconds), and seconds can be added by touching special answer bubbles that appear when a certain amount of correct answers in a row are reached. A “Level Progress” bar at the bottom of the screen shows how close you are to beating the round, but I found that many times I didn’t even reach the end of the level before the timer ran out. That’s not too much of a problem, as the end really just serves as a way to boost your score with the remaining seconds you had.

The three difficulties fit the names assigned to them; easy is kid-friendly in that it gives only a few answers to choose from and the timer doesn’t present too much of a threat. Medium is the mode people will most likely be playing, as it offers a decent challenge but isn’t impossible once you’ve brushed off your rusty math skills after a few rounds. Hard doesn’t mess around – you had better be quick, or you won’t be getting even close to finishing the level. The equations in the game stay simple no matter which difficulty or mode you choose; they are always two numbers within the one to ten range. Because of this, the game is accessible to elementary school aged kids, but can offer a challenge to adults on the higher levels.

As for sound, classical music plays in the background during both gameplay and menu navigation, and appropriate sound effects are heard in various places, with popping noises as bubbles disappear and a tense, dramatic sound when the timer begins to reach its final seconds, to name a couple. The background music stops when I start playing songs from my iPod, but the sound effects do not. I hope in a future update sound effects can be turned off in an options menu, as they can definitely distract during podcasts or quiet music.

Speaking of updates, on the developer’s blog, achievements, characters, a plot, and level bosses are mentioned. All of these things seem planned for future updates. The game is priced at three dollars right now, and while I’d already say it’s worth the money as it is much more enjoyable and easy to use than any old deck of math flash cards, these updates look like they will boost the already great replay value considerably. Best of all, they will be free.

Once I got going in the game, I was surprised to see how little I thought of the math aspect of it. Instead, as I was busy doing quick thinking and looking for the answer bubbles I needed as fast as I could, it dawned on me how Mathogen works simply as a fun video game. Whether you are looking to improve your math skills or simply want an addicting puzzle game that can be enjoyed by any gamer, Mathogen more than delivers.

Pros: Great concept that’s well-executed, a variety of difficulties, accessible to kids and challenging for adults, different types of math can be focused on, nifty accelerometer support, truly educational and fun at the same time

Cons: Sound effects can not be turned off, requires the 3.0 firmware – something not every iTouch owner has, cutesy forest background and classical music might not appeal to everybody

Final Score: 9 out of 10

By Josh60502

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