Nintendo's Touch Generations series of titles have revolutionised casual gameplay and spawned dozens of clones. Quick, easy to play and budget priced titles such as Nintendogs and Clubhouse Games have been received well critically, but most importantly the titles have been a huge success amongst the casual crowd and those who consider themselves to be serious gamers. One of the other big successes in the Touch Generations series has been Brain Training, More Brain Training and Sight Training and now joining the other Training titles is Professor Kageyama's Maths Training: The Hundred Cell Calculation Method (from here on referred to as Maths Training).
Maths Training is a title that immediately sounds like a parent's dream and really, it is. After creating a profile there are three main options from the Maths Training menu: Daily Test, Kageyama Method and Practice Exercises. The daily test contains three quick fire tests, such as watching flash cards, adding some sums and subtracting some sums. Players begin at Level One and by completing the daily training they will move up in levels and the problems will get a little more difficult.
Maths Training is designed in a way to make it easy for anyone to pick up the game. Because the sums in Maths Training aren't overly complicated, early Primary Students should be able to deal with the game quite comfortably. But because the game can also rely on pace, adults will still be challenged by the title. There is no difficult algebra, or calculus sums, just basic problems that (much like Brain Training) require some speedy solutions. The daily test can only be completed once a day though, so there are two other options to get players entertained.
The Kageyama method is the second option in Maths Training. The Kageyama method is the hundred cell arithmetic learning method apparently used in classrooms across Japan. For the hundred cell arithmetic learning method players are given a 10X10 grid with basic arithmetic. According to Hideo Kageyama, to be effective the method needs to be practised daily. After selecting the Kageyama method there are two options, studying alone or studying together. If both players own a copy of the game there are more Maths Training options, but the game also supports single card play. After selecting to play alone or with up to fifteen friends there are two options, the 100 Cell Maths or the division marathon. The division marathon is a series of division problems, players can also choose from three difficulty levels and also select how many cells to play with (10, 30, 50 or 90) as well as set whether the divisors are similar or random.
Addition, subtraction or multiplication can be selected for the 100 cell maths and players can once again select the number of cells (10, 30, 50 or 100) as well as whether the problems are the same or random. While trying to solve the problems, a timer counts up and the touch screen is used to write the solution. The number recognition in the game is pretty solid, at times we did have problems with the game understanding the number eight, but overall it's quite easy to put in your solution quickly, with the game even guessing which number you're writing before you've even finished the number.
Those who just want to have a little bit of "maths fun" will be drawn to the practice exercises option. There are five different categories for each of the eight levels, such as the 6 times table or two digit addition. The practice exercises are all about speed and getting the correct answer and after completing an exercise players will be awarded a medal, based on their performance.
That's really all there is to Maths Training. Completing the daily exercises will keep most people amused for a while and there is such a wide variety of challenges that those who want to train themselves in maths will always have something to do. Maths Training is definitely less of a game than titles such as Sight Training and Big Brain Academy but the value for educational institutions or children with maths confidence issues or adults without the fundamental number skills is unprecedented. Just like the previous Training titles this isn't the type of game you sit down with for three or four hours at a time, it's the type of title you bust out on the way to school on the bus, on the way to work on the train or while sitting at home with ten minutes to spare. It's also the sort of game that parents will want their children to play.
Maths was never a strong point of ours in high school. So, the prospect of reviewing a title which focuses exclusively on completing maths sums wasn't exactly that appealing too us. It says a lot about the quality of Professor Kageyama's Maths Training that even though the game is all about maths, we were never bored, heck we were enjoying the challenge of completing the problems in the quickest possible time. Maths Training isn't a "game" for everyone, it's ideal for younger children and easily the most educational piece of software on the Nintendo DS. But, because the problems are so easy to approach and the gameplay is so quick and goal oriented, even those who just want to brush up on their maths skills or enjoy the other Training games will get some enjoyment out of Maths Training.