Solving math problems has not always been synonymous with entertainment. In fact anyone reading this that still reports for class on Monday morning probably thinks anyone who would voluntarily perform mathematical equations for fun is insane. However, when you get older your brain begs to be stimulated by the simple idea of logic-based puzzles, and what better way to exercise that than with math. The second game to come from the Challenge Me series introduces four-player action, tons of logic number puzzles, but really feels like a bare-bones package overall.
Much like its brain teasing counterpart; Math Workout combines two distinct game types. The first is called Hidden Logic where you have to guess which cards are facedown. This can be played either solo or with up to four computer or human controlled players. The second mode is called Formulate, and as you can imagine this requires you to solve equations from a set number of cards. This can be as simple as adding three cards together, or as challenging as figuring out the correct formula to solve a massive equation. Both modes consist of an ample amount of puzzles, and if your brain craves math problems, this should certainly be your ticket.
Hidden Logic plays similar to other card games. Being able to count cards will serve you well. You can opt to play in pairs or free-for-all and the premise involves guessing your opponents hand, while the cards are facedown. There are two sets of cards, black and white, that number all the way to 11. The player who shows the lowest card goes first and each correct guess is worth ten points. In addition to earning the points this also allows the player to guess at another card, or draw one from the deck and pass the guessing on to the next person. Sounds confusing I know, but once you get the hang of it, it can become quite addictive. The problem lies in the fact that unless you are playing with real people, the computer AI is relentless, allowing you little chance of victory.
Formulate introduces the principles of multiplication, division, subtraction and addition into the mix. Instead of guessing numbers you now have to complete strings of problems by combining the cards in their hand to create a correct mathematical solution. While more enjoyable that Hidden Logic, it still suffers from most of the same issues you encountered there. You still draw cards, all with random mathematical symbols on them, and are required to create your working equation before time runs out. Amazingly this mode provides more of a challenge, but just about the same amount of enjoyment. The rest feels par for the course as the visuals, presentation and problems are shared across both game types.
Honestly, that is about all there is to this game. Like I mentioned you can play wirelessly with up to three friends with only one cartridge; a feature that is truly overlooked in most DS games, and there are plenty of challenges and difficulty levels to keep you playing for quite some time. You can’t help but feel like the game is lacking in most areas though and presentation is by far the worst offender. Much like Brain Puzzles the game just looks bland on all fronts, and once again the music is completely uninspiring. They are entirely functional though, and that is much more important. Menus are easily navigated and the explanations are abundant. This title does a much better job of explaining the ins and outs of the game than its counterpart. There are literally only a few music tracks that repeat and the sound effects are all but null. With a little spice this game could be more appealing, but as it stands, what you see is what you get.
Challenge Me: Math Workout is an interesting game to review. On one hand it does exactly what it set out to do: deliver a solid brain-teaser game focused on math problems and logic. On the other hand it fails at several game design choices such as frustrating AI and poor presentation. If you intend to enjoy this solo, or with friends I can recommend giving it a whirl. At twenty bucks there are plenty of challenges to keep you on your toes. However, if you want to face off against the computer this game will likely only frustrate you to no end. Math Workout needs a few bells and whistles to make the practice of algebra more appealing, but what is here can be enjoyable at times.