The Micro User

Quick Thinking
By Mirrorsoft
BBC B/B+/Master 128

Published in The Micro User 3.12

Invaders make minds move

If the thought of combining Space Invaders with a program to promote agile mental arithmetic seems at first a nice idea if not a little too far fetched then let's not be too hasty.

This is exactly what Mirrorsoft have done in the first of two programs by Widget Software in their Quick Thinking Plus package.

The first program, Sum Vaders, caters for one or two players, each having independent levels of difficulty, thus allowing adults to play competitively against children.

The game is based loosely around the Space Invaders theme, with a numbered spaceship travelling across the screen dropping numbered aliens.

The object is to perform the mathematical calculation requested and enter the correct answer before the alien lands. The options for play are initially selected after loading, and may be altered at the beginning of each new game if necessary.

They allow the selection of addition, subtraction, multipli cation or division, with five levels of difficulty for addition and subtraction, and three for multiplication and division.

If the alien is allowed to land, or an incorrect answer given, one of five possible landing sites at the bottom of the screen becomes filled.

This continues until all five sites are occupied, after which the game is over.

The second program is Robot Tables, which combines an assembly line machine with multiplication tables.

After loading, the initial options are selected and the screen clears to display a production line with a steam driven machine as its centre piece.

A series of numbered blocks are aimed towards the machine on a conveyor belt. A multiplication problem is displayed at the start of the production line, and the player has until the block reaches the entrance of the machine to decide whether to accept or reject the number as the correct answer.

At this point there are four possible outcomes. If the block is correctly numbered and accepted it will be processed to produce a little robot at the end of the line. Alternatively if it is rejected it will be destroyed by the machine. If the block is incorrectly numbered and accepted a deformed robot is produced, or if rejected the block is recycled for re-use.

A few games of Sum Vaders gave me new insight into improving my mental arithmetic.

Tarquin Thomas

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