Publisher: Davidson & Associates
Platform: SNES
Release Date: 1994
“The game's story is a simple rescue mission, centering on the efforts of Blasternaut to retrieve Spot from the clutches of the malicious "Trash Alien". The garbage he leaves behind consists primarily of empty containers and bad food, though coil-springs, boots and fish skeletons are also present.” - Wikipedia
Players are first taken to Math Blaster’s introduction screen where they can choose varying difficulties for gameplay action and math problems. Once their difficulties are selected, players are taken into the main gameplay where they must shoot their spaceship’s lasers at garbage. Each piece of garbage has a representative number, one of which answers the math problem that displays on the ships screen. While answering the math problems, players must be wary of enemy who are shooting lasers at them. Players must protect their health and keep their lives intact by avoiding enemy lasers or destroying enemy ships. Players can also shoot power-ups which randomly show throughout the level. Players add to their score by correctly answering math problems or shooting enemies and power-ups. Once players finish a level, they are taken to a bonus stage which serves as non-educational segment as players shoot meteors without math problems. Players are then taken to the next level where the math problems and game play are more difficult.
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Math Blaster teaches players mathematical equations through repetition and determining answers that appear on screen.
Players are motivated to obtain high scores based on the game’s memory of past performances. Players can also increase difficulty of the math problems and gameplay in order to test their skills. The bonus levels devote time to pure shooting, the main action element of the game. The game makes practicing math problems exciting through its visual elements of lasers and explosions, while making players answer problems quickly before they are shot by enemies.
The glaring criticism of Math Blaster stems from its integration of its educational content with its gameplay. The game takes a basic gameplay concept, shooting enemies and objects in space, and adds math problems in order to make the game educational. This means that unlike the top games on the list, Math Blaster’s gameplay and educational content are very distinct.
Math Blaster serves as an interactive method of completing addition and multiplication tables. Players memorize and apply their math skills in order to differentiate the answers. The game assumes that players already know the answers to math problems and allows players to increase their fluidity in answering math problems through forcing players to make faster calculations. Players can practice math problems through memorization and trial and error; however, the game does not help players understand the factual knowledge behind the math problems. Players gain procedural knowledge by remembering math problems and being analyzed by right and wrong answers through the game’s point system. The game also provides some motor skills, as players must aim their lasers at moving objects. While playing the game, players may change their attitude towards math as math problems become more exciting due to the gameplay; however, it is unlikely that the Math Blaster will increase players’ interests in math because the game teaches route memorization.