Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

The Number Devil

The Number Devil

Spring 2005 Software
Ages: 8 & Up
Publisher: Viva Media
Price: $29.99
Platform: Windows/ Mac
The Number Devil refreshingly flies in the face of many current game conventions. The lovely 2D animation is much more attractive than the generic 3D of most current games. It has the whimsical look of a good children’s book, and that’s likely to get the player’s imagination in gear right from the start. And the Number Devil himself is a delightfully grumpy guide, with none of the treacle rah-rah qualities of many game characters. The game really wants the player to like math, not just do it efficiently. (In this case we’re talking upper elementary and middle school math.)

These good intentions show up best in the animated sequence that lead off each of the 11 games in the Number Devil. During these inventive and amusing scenes, the Devil explains some aspect of math like square roots or decimals. The only catch is that while these explanations are clever, they pass too quickly, and there is no guarantee the player has mastered the information. The subsequent games that make up the interactive part of the product sometimes reinforce the learning, but frequently do no better than quiz for right answers (often under time pressure) without enhancing understanding. For The Number Devil to really work its magic, player would have learn more through the playing of the games rather than the introductory animations. The Number Devil is likely to work best for the child who feels competent at math, and who will benefit from exposure to intriguingly quirky aspects of numbers and number relationships.

Scot Osterweil   ©2005 Parents' Choice
Scot Osterweil is the creator of the Zoombinis, and the co-designer of "Zoombinis Logical Journey," "Zoombinis Mountain Rescue," and "Zoombinis Island Odyssey." His other computer games include "YOIKS!" and "Switchback." He lives with his wife and two sons near Boston.

Look for this product at:
Viva Media
Major, Specialty & Online Retailers

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