I’ve always been a big advocate for video games that educate as well as provide a source of entertainment for younger audiences. Now, with the release of the Calculation Castle series on the Nintendo Switch, arguably the most popular console at present for younger players, there has never been a better platform on which to help educate your child through the entertainment values of playing video games. Developed and published by media 5, this collection of four games provides a series of mathematical adventures that covers addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Although each of the subjects, or games, are sold separately, each of the titles play out in the same way with the mechanics of their quests, objectives and gameplay. With this in mind and the need to review each of the titles on their own merits, I shall produce a series of reviews that build around the same structure, yet contain the various elements that each of the games possess.
For this review, we’ll look at Calculation Castle: Greco’s Challenge “Subtraction”. The game involves making your way from the ground floor of Greco’s castle, a vampiric character, and ascending over a series of four floors to reach the top of the castle where you’ll face off with the young immortal. Each floor comprises of six challenging and varying levels, with the top-tier presenting you four quests, including the final boss battle and a bonus secret room upon completion.
Each of the levels incorporate an element of mathematics in their solution over two different styles of games. The first requires you to battle Greco’s henchmen, which come in the form of ghosts that contain a number of lives. In order to advance, you are presented with a series of mathematical sums, in this case subtraction, and with each correct answer given, the ghost loses one of his lives. Successfully defeat the ghost and you move onto the next level. The second stage of the gameplay presents you with a door that contains a number of locks. Again, you are presented with a series of mathematical questions; the answers of which make up the combination code for each of the locks. Successfully unlocking each of them, opens up the door that allows you to move onto the next stage where you face off against another of Graco’s henchmen.
Each of the mathematical questions are presented in a format that is easy to follow or understand. The main component of the screen displays the equation that need to be solved and beneath, a series of blank squares determine the shape of the solution required, or in other words, how many digits are needed to form the answer. Presented in a multiple choice style of answering, a selection of digits are displayed; some of which comprise the answer and the others forming a red herring.
It’s a simple premise that offers a goal, or target, for younger audiences to work towards with the successful solution to each of the mathematical questions. Each correct question and level completed then awards you with treasure items that come in bronze, silver and gold, depending on your performance, as well as a series of gold coin that are needed to advance from one floor to the next. However, some levels can award you with a bonus stage key which presents you with a bonus level in which you must defeat the ghosts that appear by pressing the corresponding face buttons that is relevant to their positioning on the screen; which again rewards you with coins.
Collecting these coins becomes an important element of the gameplay as each floor is guarded by a ghoul who requires payment to pass. Should you not have accrued enough coins to pay your toll, then the need to replay previous levels becomes paramount. However, depending on your skill level, this may not seem as easy a prospect as you may think. Each of the levels that require a mathematical solution come in various formats of difficulty, with some solutions require one numbered answers whilst others may require two, three or more digits to succeed.
Despite this increase in difficulty the further you progress through the castle, you do have the option to purchase hints which highlight corresponding numbers that make up the answer. However, using this option does eat into your collection of accrued coins that are needed to advance through floors. There’s nothing too technical or difficult here for younger players; apart from the increasing difficulty in the equations from level to level and floor and floor. However, I tested this series of games on my eight year old and, admittedly with the help of his twelve-year-old brother, managed to make it to the top of the castle.
As a bystander, observing, I can tell you that my eight year old was kept amused for an easy couple of hours as he played through the game; asking me to play the games again the next day and the one following that; and so on and so forth. I can easily say that Calculation Castle entertained, educated and informed through gameplay, often creating much excitement with the correct solutions, beating the henchmen, unlocking locks and finding bonus stage levels; even the need to go back and replay certain levels in order to accrue coins did not deter from the fun that was had with his title.
For that alone, this is a game that easily succeeds in what it sets out to achieve and if, like me, you’d rather your child was playing games with an educational value then Calculation Castle is a good option. However, obtaining the full collection of four games can work out quite a costly exercise, do the maths, or get your child to do it. However, for pure parenting value and educational quality, it can work out to be money well spent. If you’re looking for a game that bring you and your child together, educate, inform and provide entertainment for the both of you, then Calculation Castle: Greco’s Challenge “Subtraction” will simply provide that for you. It’s simple mathematics, really!
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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