Timez Attack Multiplication Game from BigBrainz

In my never-ending quest to find quality educational games for my children, I stumbled across Timez Attack about a year or so ago. Timez Attack is a fairly standard "get out of enemy territory" type video game, with a single character playing against one enemy after another. There are three scenarios available in the paid version; however, the free version only offers one — a deep, dark medieval style dungeon complete with ogres to battle. We only have the free version, so I can only comment on it.

Taking one level and one portion of the multiplication table at a time, your little green guy wanders from room to room, opening sets of doors. Each level teaches only one set of numbers at a time, starting with the two times table. When entering a room, a multiplication problem will appear on one door; visual groups of dots representing the problem appear on the other door, and little lighted balls jump off the door and turn into bizarre, snail-like creatures that must be captured. The number of snails depends on the multiplicand factor of the problem while the value of each snail represents the multiplier factor of the problem. For example, if the problem is 5 x 3, you will get 5 snails with a value of 3 each. The player simply moves over each snail to capture it, and a child's voice skip counts as each snail is captured. In the example problem, this means that your child will hear "3, 6, 9, 12, 15" as they are capturing snails. Once they are all captured, the player must face the door and fling the factors at the door, and again the numbers are skip-counted out loud. The number problem on the door becomes activated and you must enter the answer to the problem.

Then, the battle begins. Out pops an ogre prepared to pound your little green player guy to a pulp if you can't answer his question. In each round, there will be a total of only three questions, and you are only required to answer problems that you have actually learned in that round. After opening three doors and learning three problems, you will do battle one more time with a fourth ogre, going through those three problems several more times in order to move on to a new part of the dungeon. After learning all twelve numbers in the times table for that level, there is a final battle before moving on to the next part of the dungeon and the next number. If you can correctly answer "x1" through "x12" in the final battle, you move on. If not, you are taken back long enough to go over the ones you missed.

There are a few minor technical problems with the game, but usually not enough to make the play of the game impossible. Sometimes you can get stuck in a corner and need to do some mouse maneuvering to get unstuck; you can also get yourself locked behind the ogres' locked doors which requires some very non-intuitive running and jumping at the door. The worst problem that I find while playing is that the snails move very quickly and will sometimes get away from you down the halls that lead to the room you are in - some times you need to go outside and back in several times in order to find them, or give the game enough time to give you new snails.

Timez Attack is an excellent quick-skills builder; not only does it make the player learn the grouping that leads to the answer, but you are also required to answer very quickly or get "hit" by the ogre. For a child with less-than-optimal memorization skills, this may make the game too difficult, and there are no settings (at least in the free version) for slowing down the speed of the battles.

The biggest beef I have with the game is the dull repetition, at least in the free version. Every level looks almost exactly the same — some walls may be in different places, but that's pretty much it — and all of the ogres look and act exactly the same. All the battles are the same. At the end of each level, you are given the option of moving to a different scenario if you have the full version, but I'm assuming that even with the different scenarios, each section is going to look exactly like the section before it. My kids lost interest fairly quickly and even my math-lover gave it up after the first few levels and has never expressed interest in it again.

With the free version, you have nothing to lose other than your time downloading it. (It's over 43 MB, so be prepared if you have dial-up.) It's certainly a cute little game, and it is very effective in its approach if that is the approach that your child particularly needs. Overall, I do recommend it, and if your family really likes it, you may even want to go ahead and upgrade to the full version. Why not give it a try today?

--M. Ellis