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DS  header logo

Professor Kageyama's Maths Training

For: DS

Doesn't quite add up

Product: Professor Kageyama's Maths Training | Publisher: Nintendo | Format: DS | Genre: Brain training, Casual | Players: 1-16 | Networking: wireless (adhoc) | Version: Europe
Professor Kageyama's Maths Training DS, thumbnail 1
It's hard to jazz up mathematics. You can't sellotape a grinning celebrity to calculus problems (even Carol Vorderman would be fighting a losing battle with that one), and it's pretty hard to work a reality television program around the idea of long division.

Still, number crunching is an important skill, and there are plenty of people out there who want to keep their arithmetic skills perky without resorting to dull textbooks. Fortunately for DS owners, Professor Kageyama is on-hand to help. Unfortunately for them, he's no more exciting than the aforementioned tomes.

Professor Kageyama's Maths Training
is the latest in a slew of DS titles aimed at flexing the brain cells. Nintendo's first, Dr Kawashima's Brain Training, tried to get more lateral brain skills tested, but Professor Kageyama's effort, as the name suggests, is more numerical in style.

The idea is that the best way to keep the brain active and those mental skills sharp is to practice a little each day. Once a day, Kageyama gives you a few tests based on your current 'level' in the game, scoring how fast you complete them and moving you up in levels as you improve in speed and accuracy.

The tests are generally quite simple, with the hardest being three-digit arithmetic and the easiest being, well, counting rabbit faces. But the pace is set so that you're let in gently, even if it's been a while since you last did maths homework.

To give your answers to Professor Kageyama, the game uses the ever-dubious method of handwriting recognition. As with all the training titles before it, you hold the DS like a book so the touchscreen is on the side you hold the stylus and questions appear on what would normally be the top screen, while you scrawl your answers on the bottom screen.

Although 'scrawling' won't get you very far, because the Professor has a little trouble with certain numbers and it takes a while to learn how to draw a four so that it doesn't look like a two – not to mention the natural urge to cross out a wrong answer, when you should be pressing the Clear button.

Having said that, out of curiosity we gave the game to someone who had never used a DS before, and after a stressful ten minutes they were happily scribbling out answers very quickly indeed.

Once the daily mental exercise is over, you can still satisfy that desire for digits by taking on the other two game modes: a practice method that lets you choose any of the 40 or so modes from the Daily Test to do again, and the far more interesting Kageyama Method.

The Method works as follows: you're given a board of 100 cells (a 10x10 grid) with the numbers zero to nine running along the top and the left-hand side in a random order. Your task is to add, subtract or multiply these numbers (depending on the game variant) by looking at the column and row you're in.

The game is keen to impress upon you that the Kageyama Method is 'revolutionary', but other than providing a way of doing your zero to nine times table all in one go, we're not sure it's as impressive as the Professor wants us to think it is. And once you know your times table by heart, there's less and less that the game can offer.

Whereas Dr Kawashima will quip facts about your brain and show you how well you're doing against other players, Kageyama doesn't acknowledge them at all, even though up to three people can save their progress on a single cart.

In fact, Maths Training doesn't even compare you with yourself – other than the best three scores for each task, you've no way of knowing if you're better than a month ago, a week ago, or even yesterday. This is strange, since it's supposed to be a 'training' game and makes the whole thing feel a bit futile.

The brain training genre isn't new any more – there are a lot of games out there claiming to give the grey matter a workout – and ultimately, Maths Training isn't going to offer much benefit if you're comfortable with solving six times four sums and long division.

Perhaps rightly then, this is firmly aimed at late primary school and secondary school students looking to spend their gaming time a little more productively.

It's true that Kageyama covers all of the mathematical bases, but so does a maths textbook – and with roughly the same level of charm. The Professor feels like a musty old maths teacher with a whole pile of tests and answers but nothing in the way of smiles and kind words. By contrast, Kawashima is the hip, young student teacher with stories, advice and even includes some arithmetic practice, too.

You do the math.
Professor Kageyama's Maths Training
Reviewer photo
Mike Cook | 20 February 2008
Maths Training looks good on paper and has a few good ideas, but forgets the importance of making learning fun
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