Continuing from last week’s trend of educational games, we now take a look at the SNES port of Math Blaster: Episode 1. Unlike the veritable abortions of Mario edutainment though, this one is somewhat alright.
We start out with the game’s hero, Blasternaut, and his pathetic little slave-droid, Spot. For some reason, their ship won’t start, so Blasternaut sends his dejected sidekick out to fix it while he steps out of scene. In Blasternaut’s absence, a three-eyed “trash alien” stops by and kidnaps Spot (for reasons unknown to this very day). A heartbroken Blasternaut, incapable of doing much on his own besides shoot things and solve simple math equations, must then go on a mission to rescue Spot from his kidnapper.
The game proceeds in three different stages, each presenting a different type of math exercise for the player. You begin by shooting pieces of trash in space corresponding to a number missing in a math expression, after which you must make your way upward through various levels within a cave, culminating in the final confrontation with the trash alien’s ship. Exercises either cover addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division, depending on the math difficulty level selected at the start of the game. The game does a decent job of combining some level of action with problem-solving (at least as far as educational titles go), so the player isn’t likely to get too bored too quickly.
While I never played any of the Math Blaster games myself as a kid, this does seem like something I would have somewhat enjoyed (sure, I was a bit of a weird kid growing up as well, but my social awkwardness and oversized head shouldn’t be of any consequence). Mind you, it’s still targeted for younger audiences, so don’t expect anything like Star Fox with math mixed in. Star Fox doesn’t need math. Star Fox is all action, baby. Except for Star Fox Adventures…I’m not sure where that fits in.