Ultimate Math Invaders Game Review

The Ultimate Math Invaders may bring some fond memories to you. It certainly did to me! I used to spend hours at the arcade and at home fighting wave after wave of those invading UFOs in Space Invaders.

Ultimate Math Invaders is loosely based on the same time-proven Space Invaders model. Why I say ‘loosely based’ is best illustrated in the video below (in the Child Play-test section).

Game Play

Dangerous rectangles are coming towards your spaceship. Each has a math question in it. The player needs to type in the correct answer, move their spaceship into the correct position and press enter in order to shoot the matching invader.

If you miss, shoot the wrong invader or simply got the answer wrong, the invader simply keeps, well, invading.
Because there is an added step, the nature of the game changes quite a bit from the Spave Invaders I used to know, where it’s all about frantic shooting. Here, the invaders are fewer, and you have a whole lot more thinking to do.

How does this look? Well, here’s a screenshot: (click on it to see a full resolution image, which will provide a better impression of the game’s look and feel than any words I can find)

ultimate math invaders in-game screen

Shoot those boxes!

Now, to be fair, the game was produced in 2005 and so the graphics naturally look a bit dated.
The sound effects however remind me more of the original Space Invaders of the 1980s – blips and piffs are all you get. Don’t expect any spoken instructions or music. Perhaps this is intended, in order to have us parents reminisce?

There are a lot of different levels of difficulty and operations in this game, so much so that the official age range covers ages 5 to 15. Yes, fifteen!
Okay, there’s a value for money proposition! 10 years of use, wow! What games are you still playing that you played 10 years ago? Doom 2 anyone?

But in all seriousness, it does cover all kinds of calculations you could possibly put into a math game like this.

Ultimate Math Invaders Evaluation

We recorded a game session with our intrepid intergalactic test crew. Click the image to watch it:

Strengths

  1. All kinds of operations and question types covered – from simplest addition to powers and square roots. Very comprehensive! Practice to your (child’s) heart’s content!
  2. Admin screen allows parent or educator to view what was played and quick statistics of most recent 10 incorrectly answered questions.
  3. Skill selection is organised according to what is age appropriate, as per curriculums of American, UK or Australian schools (depends where you buy it).
  4. With more than one player you may be able to get some competition going for who gets the highest score. The moment that happens, kids usually play it without much coaxing. (But watch out for the losers!)
admin view of ultimate math invaders

Admin View

Weaknesses of Ultimate Math Invaders

  1. Very lame game experience when compared to any “normal” game. In fact, our test kids struggled to finish even one round without moaning. Everyone agreed however that it was better than workbooks or flash cards.
  2. Potential to frustrate. Because the game involves quick answering and then aiming and firing, kids miss shots. We have seen a few very frustrated moments with the children, where they knew the correct answer, but the game scored them as incorrect, because they accidentally hit the wrong invader.
  3. No storyline. Ok, it is a space invaders type game, so I guess no story needed? In any case, there isn’t one.
  4. No sense of progress. Both the player and the parent have very little to guide them as to whether they should move on to the next level or not. The “statistics” screen basically indicates only what number problems have been played, but not how well.
  5. All high scores are mixed up. Which means that the score for playing the “one” times table is compared to the score for playing the 2-3 digit addition. This makes the high score system pretty meaningless.

Child Test

Comments from our young space cadets:

  • Oh cool, a purple spaceship
  • I love the teleport key
  • “Do you want to have a go?” – “No”
  • When is this going to finish?
  • Damn, I thought this was ‘plus’ not ‘minus’
  • Is that it? (When the set of invader waves was finished and a thumbs up appeared on screen)

Pricing

At the time of writing the game retails for about US$40.

Verdict

Covers: All Math operations – addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, exponents, square roots are all covered
Age Group: 5-15 (seriously guys, I’d say 6 – 10 – I cannot imagine being able to get an older child to play…)
Effectiveness: 3.5 out of 5 (the game does not teach, only practice. you can choose level of difficulty according to curriculum level though)
Learning vs Fiddling: 3.5 out of 5 (constantly switching between entering numbers and moving and firing make it more fiddly than it initially seems)
Avoids Violence: 4.5 out of 5 – Okay, you shoot at boxes)
Fun Factor: 1.5 out of 5 – it beats worksheets!
Medium: CD and Online Download
Platforms: Windows and Mac
Price: $39.95 (as at Feb 2010)
Guarantee: Yes, 30 days Money Back Guarantee
Value for Money: 2 out of 5 (ok, it’s got loads of operations, but the interface is very dated and the enjoyment factor is too lacking.
Overall:   2 out of 5 (proceed with caution)

If you still want to visit the product’s website, it’s here:Ultimate Math Invaders website.

In all seriousness, I can’t quite recommend the ultimate math invaders game. It sure is better than going through printed workbooks, but that’s about it. If you are after a really good math practice game covering all major operations, check out our MathRider game review which IMO leaves the ultimate math invaders in a rather black hole…