Last week I reviewed The Land of Venn – Geometric Defense. This week I tried out The Land of Venn – Numeric Storms. I’ve got to say I was happy to return to the goofy and creative Land of Venn for this new installment of the series.
While Geometric Defense has you drawing geometric figures—and learning some geometry along the way—Numeric Defense has you drawing lines to add numbers, with the overall purpose being to develop “rapid recall” of math facts.
There are three sections that increase in difficulty. In the first section, you start out slow and easy by learning to add 1 and 2 to get 3. Then you learn to add to 5 and to 8. When you make any one of those sums by connecting the lines to the monsters, the monsters you connected are destroyed. The object of the game is to destroy all the monsters before they get to your creature in the center pool and drain the pool dry with their long, scary straws.
The gameplay really shines. What makes it so much fun is that the little number-monsters are relentless. They keep marching in from the sides of the screen and you have to work fast to match them all up into the combinations to make the numbers you’re looking for. If you try to connect numbers that don’t add up to one of these sums, the monsters don’t take any damage and you have to try again, losing precious time. Power-ups are available to fill up your pool or to destroy a few of the monsters and help clear off the field. Sometimes the the power-ups come in handy (or become essential) to beat a level. The game is cumulative—all the number combinations you’ve made in previous levels work, but larger sums make more powerful spells. You learn how to add up numbers to reach 3, 5, 8, 10, 13, 15, 18, 20, 23, 25, 28 and 30. You can use as many numbers as you want to reach a sum. For instance, 8 and 7 add up to 15, and so do 4, 4, 4, and 3.
My only quibble with the gameplay is that the screen is so crowded it can be hard to see what you’re doing. Once in a while the number tags disappear underneath other objects and you can’t tell what the number is. And sometimes you’re trying to connect two monsters and the line “sticks” to monsters you didn’t mean to select. I suppose you could consider this a feature of the game because it makes you strategize in order to win before the screen gets too crowded, but it got overly frustrating for me sometimes. I can imagine that a kid might get even more frustrated than I did.
That said, I can’t imagine a more fun way to build addition speed and fluency. The gameplay is fast and challenging, the art is adorable, and the music, sound effects, and voice-over are terrific.
As an adult with pretty good arithmetic skills, I found the game both challenging and fun, and I did notice that the number combinations seemed to seep into my memory as I played.
I think The Land of Venn games may also offer cognitive benefits beyond the obvious. A recent study showed that fast-paced games with lots of objects moving in and out of view can improve perception, attention, and higher cognitive functions, such as multitasking.
Monsters are destroyed with cartoonish flourishes (flames, lightning bolts, blocks of ice, etc.) and sound effects. The App Store says the game is recommended for ages 6–8, but some of the levels might be too hard for 6-year-olds. I think kids of any age (and adults) will enjoy Numeric Storms as they painlessly boost their math skills.
The Land of Venn – Numeric Storms is $2.99 on the App Store for iPhone and iPad, and it’s rated ages 4+. Recently the developer announced that there will be a free version with ads, but the pay version will continue to be available.