Personal Trainer: Math

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Math plays on the portable Nintendo DS system and includes more than 40 fun, fast-paced math exercises, from basic addition and subtraction to more extensive multiplication tables and calculation ladders. Up to 16 players with Nintendo DS systems can wirelessly race to finish their problems, even if only one player has a game card.

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Personal Trainer: Math is the latest in a growing line Nintendo DS titles designed to teach and instruct more than to entertain. This trend, which started with Brain Age, includes everything from language teaching games to even food preparation.

A cartoon version of Professor Hideo Kageyama, a real-life Japanese math guru who believes in the power of the 100-Cell Math learning method, hosts the game. His 100-Cell Math technique revolves around a blank 10x10 grid with a one set of numbers on the X-axis and another on the Y-axis. Students then connect numbers similar to a standard multiplication table, adding/subtracting/multiplying the figures to fill in all the squares on the grid. The method combines rote learning with speed, and feels tailor-made for the Nintendo DS touch screen.

Filling in grids makes up one of the major game play options. The others include the Daily Test, which claims to let players see how much their math skills have progressed, and Practice Exercises filled with more rapid-fire touch-screen math equations. Players can also compete against friends, including a wireless study session that allows up to 16 players, each with their own Nintendo DS, to play on one game cartridge.

There’s not much variety to the game, which is lacking in the minigames and brainteasers that make products like Brain Age so addicting. It’s pretty much all math, all the time, and while the game clearly lets players know when they’re right or wrong, there’s little else to track one’s actual progression. Considering all the math that players must work through, the game undoubtedly can help students improve their skills and the challenges gradually escalate up to something around a 5th or 6th grade level.

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