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Review – Calculator: The Game makes maths fun with ’90s nostalgia

Let’s face it, many of us used calculators for games, not maths, in school – and now this title has turned your classroom distraction into a mobile game

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 August, 2017, 8:01pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 August, 2017, 8:01pm

Calculator: The Game

Simple Machine

3.5/5 stars

When I was in school – long before smartphones were in every pocket and laptops on every table – the humble calculator provided an endless source of amusement. Sometimes, our scientific calculators had simple games installed on them, but more often than not, we used carefully selected numbers to spell out amusing words.

That makes Calculator: The Game (available for Android and iOS) a funny little release, since that’s also kind of the goal. Not adding up numbers so they can be flipped over to make naughty words, but working out mathematical combinations to achieve victory. It may sounds boring, but it kept my attention for longer than I imagined, considering I almost failed maths at school.

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Calculator: The Game is never going to revolutionise mobile gaming, but it’s an educational release that actually can be fun. Much of that comes down to the plain weirdness of the game.

There’s Clicky, your Microsoft-inspired little assistant who constantly asks if you “want to play a game?” Of course you do, and what starts out as a standard set of adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing, soon leads on to removing digits, storing numbers, setting targets and using portals.

The puzzles aren’t exactly impossible to complete, but there are enough of them here to keep the challenge alive. You’re first eased into a basic set-up, by being given an unlimited number of tries to reach your target. It’s only later that the game starts restricting the number of moves you can make before it resets.

Calculator also uses the overall audio-visual structure to its advantage, employing a cartoonish-graphical-style that harks back to the calculators of the ’90s, alongside sounds straight out of the retro-arcade playbook. It also features a solar panel, an absolutely pointless function where you can turn off the calculator by holding your finger over it – stupid, but I loved it nonetheless.

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Sure, Calculator: The Game is basic puzzle game. It doesn’t look like much, but what the game lacks in innovation and overall cool factor, it makes up for with pure character.