Monkey Math, by Dennis Zander, has to be one of the most entrancing educational games ever written. The purpose of this colorful and carefully crafted program is to teach arithmetic. With its multiple skill levels and amusing sound and graphics, children (and adults) could spend hours learning and sharpening skills without even realizing it.
The premise of the game is simple. The player controls a huge gorilla (I've nicknamed him "Art") with a joystick plugged into Port One. The gorilla can move back and forth above a hopper. A conveyor belt containing numbers passes below the gorilla, and pressing the fire button on the joystick causes the gorilia's fist to slam down and knock a number into the hopper. Below the hopper is another conveyor belt containing an uncompleted arithmetic equation.
The object is to knock the correct number into the hopper to complete the equation. If you do, a team of monkeys rolls away the completed equation, and a new equation takes its place. Knocking the wrong number into the hopper causes the team of monkeys to remove the wrong answer and you get to try again. Each time you complete an equation correctly, your score increases. A clock on the wall behind "Art" shows that that game starts at 8:00 a.m. and ends at 4:00 p.m. - quitting time, when the whistle blows.
The goal in Monkey Math is to complete as many equations correctly as possible in the limited time. While giving the wrong answer doesn't detract from your current score, it does waste time and hampers your efforts to get a high score. Fast reflexes are also rewarded. Once you've solved the equation in your head, it is advantageous to hit the correct number into the hopper the first time it appears on the conveyor belt, otherwise you'll have to wait till it comes around again.
Monkey Math offers several options such as counting, addition, subtraction, and division. The varying skill levels not only control the speed at which numbers pass by under "Art", but also the difficulty of the problems. To further increase difficulty, you are often given the answer, and you must supply one of the elements (i.e., the multiplicand or divisor) of the equation. While very young children can play the counting game, the full-speed division should be challenging to anyone.
Monkey Math is very well done and should prove to be an engaging and effective teaching tool. Such amusing and attractive touches as the gorilla gobbling bananas during his lunch break and the excellent use of color and sound should make this game popular with your family or school mates. I recommend you get a copy and see if Monkey Math can make a monkey out of you!
Reviewed by David Plotkin