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Math Gran Prix Review

Developer: Atari Publisher: Atari
Release Date: 1982 Also On: None

Sometimes as a gamer you come across a game that makes you wonder “why in the world did they make this?” When I first came across Math Gran Prix, I figured it would be one of those games, but, as a former math major, I was intrigued nonetheless. How would Math Gran Prix compare to other racing games on the Atari 2600? Would it be a good form of edutainment or so boring it’d make me want to throw the cart in frustration? Allow me to divulge the answers to these and other questions.

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The concept of Math Gran Prix is simple. There is a race course that goes from the bottom of the screen to the top of the screen. Rather than actually having a racing control mechanic, the course is set up in sections. To allow your car to advance through sections of the course, you must correctly answer simple math problems. It depends on which game mode you choose whether you’ll be dealing with addition and subtraction, multiplication and division, or both. The game can be played against the computer or against a second player.

But it’s not just a matter of correctly answering problems to progress. There are certain points on the track where there are objects that do various things. You can also bump your opponent’s car to force them to fix it by solving a problem. These factors introduce an element of strategy into the game that is deeper than just answering the problems and makes the game more viable as a game and not just a string of math problems.

Aesthetically, for 1982, the game is average. The sound effects are okay, but they aren’t anything impressive. The same can be said of the graphics, although I should say that the color scheme is a bit dull, which makes the game seem less exciting. This is very bad considering that the game wasn’t that exciting to begin with. Still, the young kids at whom this game is obviously aimed shouldn’t be that concerned about graphical impressiveness.

The manual indicates that this game is aimed at kids aged six to ten. That sounds about right for what this game has to offer. I would say that, even for someone that age, I wouldn’t count on this game holding their attention for too long, and for someone much older than that, it won’t hold their attention very long at all. It’s a nice idea, but it lacks excitement, as do most edutainment titles. Unless you’re one of those people who wants to have every game available on the Atari 2600, I think you can safely pass on this one.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 5
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 4
Final: 5.5
Written by Martin Review Guide