Ace Mathician (DSiWare) Review

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Title: Ace Mathician
Platform: Nintendo DSi (played on 3DS XL model)
Developer: Goodbye Galaxy Games
Publisher: Circle Ent.
Release Date: July 12th, 2012 (NA), August 2nd, 2012 (EU)
Price: 200 Points/$1.99 (DSi Shop/3DS eShop/NA)

Note that I have completed the game 100%, I collected every star and beat every stage in the game, also all screens will be of press screenshots due to no DS screen capture function

Today I’m reviewing a tiny, inexpensive DSiWare game. This is only a couple of bucks on the eShop (the DSiWare store is set to shutdown soon in the future, and you now can’t even add DSi/Nintendo Points to your DSi account anymore, so if you don’t have 200 Points, you can’t buy it). But does its cute yet intriguing exterior and cheap price hide a great game underneath? Let’s find out!

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This is a 2D platforming puzzle game starring a Koala named Ace. This however is no ordinary puzzle game. Your goal is to reach the tasty fruit in the level without getting hit. You’re also tasked to collect all three stars in a level prior to collecting the fruit to be able to eventually unlock more levels marked with a star on the level select screen.

The trick here is the mathematical system. This is where the game relies on the touch screen. You only use the d-pad to move left and right, and the A button to jump. The meat of the game is figuring out the right solution to the math problem given to move specially marked platforms (red and blue) to reach the stars and fruit safely. You do this by selecting from a one of four answer icons, with some requiring a chain of answers. Some levels simply have one set of platforms to move (all of a color move at the same time), others will have you trying to dodge or block off Monkeys who spit watermelon seeds (did they take inspiration from Yoshi’s Island‘s Kikis?) or ones that move back and forth.

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Some of the levels are of course real brain teasers. Including one level I shall not name, but I have a feeling those who have played it will know which one I’m referring to. Here’s a hint; when you jump, you can press the other direction at JUST the right time to make it back to where you were, rather than solely trying to make it to the other side. That’s all I’ll say. πŸ˜‰ Once I figured this out, I was able to beat that level, and others ahead that had similarly risky solution (and you’ll need to take risks in certain levels).

There are a couple of problems, one minor one and one rather large one. The first is that the touch input is rather poor, meaning that you have to press more firmly on the icon to make it work, so things will move more slowly than you’d like. The other, bigger issue is that; there’s no skill regarding the answering system. What I mean is, I did not use an OUNCE of mathematical problem-solving to beat a single level. I literally just tried every single option until I got one that worked best for the situation at hand. For a game so focused on the math-portion, it honestly for me did not do a single thing regarding teaching me to perform better at math. Reviewers I’ve read seem to have taken a better liking and even managed to learn something from this, but like I said, it did nothing for me. Now is that a BAD thing? Well… yes and no. Yes because it defeats the purpose, but no because I actually beat it in the end, so… hurray? πŸ˜›

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From a visual and audio standpoint, it’s decent. The art style is cute. The game runs at only 30 frames per second it seems and honestly, does that matter for this game? Not really. The audio is alright with only one single voice clip ever used for Ace (“Yeah!”) and the squeak of the Monkeys as they’re knocked out. Actually in the 3rd set of levels, Ace is silent the whole way through. I’m curious if that was a glitch or an accidental omission. Music-wise is gets the job done. Each set of levels has a different visual style and music track with a new set of gimmicks to throw at you.

Length-wise it’s really short. So don’t expect to get a huge amount of content. And you do basically the same thing aside from the new gimmicks as you progress in the game. Checking my amount of time played via the 3DS Activity Log, I only took an hour and 42 minutes to 100% the game.

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All-in-all, it’s fine for what it is. If you don’t mind breezing through the answering system (the real challenge is just getting the right answer and just surviving, and of course getting every single star), then it’s perfectly fine for only $2. I doubt I need to say “wait for a sale”, I mean how much cheaper is it going to get? πŸ˜› If you got the money to spare or even have 20o points left to spend on the DSi Shop, I say give it a go. Just be mindful of the issues I pointed out. Naturally do some research before spending those 200 points though if it’s your last amount, as I’m certain there are better games at that price. Just saying. πŸ˜›

You’ll Love:
+ It’s a very simple game with very simple controls.
+ The visuals are cute and decent to look at. Nothing all that special though.
+ The game is short, which for me is a good thing! πŸ˜›
+ It’s cheap as can be really at only $2.
+ Music is pretty decent, with a new track at every new set of levels.
+ Most of the work was by one person; Hugo Smits. He basically did everything but bring the Lead Artist (he still was an Artist though) and the music, and others were named under Special Thanks. Pretty impressive I say!

You’ll Hate:
– The touch inputs are lacking in sensitivity, so you have to press a bit harder than usual.
– The math solutions don’t take any real brain power, you basically can just be cheap and pick every answer until you see one that works.
– it only runs in 30 frame per second, but that’s not really a big deal for a game like this. Really.
– The game is short, which for some is also a bad thing! πŸ˜›
– In case you’re wondering, there’s no amazing surprise upon 100% completing the game, or anything actually.

Score 6/10

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