This software presents tables practice in the form of a game. The task is to collect the key for each room in the castle by completing the activity in the room and carrying out a speed test in the dungeon. There are 9 rooms in all - one for each table from 2 to 10. The keys are presented in groups so a player has to master the 2, 5 and 10 tables before she can go on to 3 and 4, then 6 and 9 and finally to 7 and 8. Fortunately a system of passwords allows the teacher to override this and choose the appropriate level for a particular child and also allows children to restart the game where they left off at the end of the previous session.
Each activity is completely different from the others and it is not always
obvious what you need to do. Unfortunately the instructions for the activities
and hints on remembering the tables are only provided in written form
so weak readers will need plenty of help to get started. They may also
be confused when, in places, the speech bubble on screen says one thing
and a voice says something else.
Although all the graphics are excellent, the games vary in quality with the most mathematically useful being those for the 2 and 4 times tables. Strangely those for the 5 and 6 times tables provide visual reinforcement of multiplication being successive addition to children who get the answer right (and probably don't need it) but offers no help at all to those who get it wrong.
Another problem is that some of the games give a response to a wrong answer which is more appealing than that for a right one. This is most noticeable in the 9 times game where a right answer makes the king and queen kiss and a wrong one makes them fall through a trapdoor with a scream. You don't need much knowledge of boys to work out which one they will prefer and the same applies to the bird that poohs if you get a wrong answer for the 5 times table.
At the end of each game, there is a tables test which is timed but there is no time limit so children are not unduly pressurised. This test is appealingly presented as a dungeon wall of numbers which gradually changes to a picture of the castle as the correct answers are clicked. The questions include all the tables covered so far in the game, not just the one tackled in that room, so if you start at the 6 times level, the test will cover the 2, 5, 10, 3, 4, and 6 times tables. Unfortunately it is easy to complete the test successfully by just clicking numbers at random.
Not suitable for weak readers and those who find maths difficult but can provide useful tables practice for other children.
Windows 3.11 and 95/98, Acorn, Apple Mac and Power Mac
Made by BBC/Logotron