The Unknown Number: Puzzle Math Arcade Game

App review by
Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Media
The Unknown Number: Puzzle Math Arcade Game App Poster Image
Unique math game lacks instruction, may leave kids puzzled.

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The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn how to build equations using given numbers while strategizing to eliminate as many of the numbered blocks per round as possible. The game begins with simple addition and increases in difficulty as kids progress into multiplication. The game offers little in the way of instruction or hints so if kids get stuck, they might resort to using random equations just to earn stars, rather than use math skills to complete the puzzles. While The Unknown Number is an attractive math puzzler, kids might need more help than what's on offer.

Ease of Play

Content is neatly organized and the equations are easy to create by tapping or swiping. Instructions are sporadic and brief, and there are no hints when kids get stuck.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Unknown Number: Puzzle Math Arcade Game challenges kids to build math equations using numbered blocks. They begin with basic addition and work up to more complex equations that include subtraction and multiplication. Kids earn stars and clear levels by eliminating the numbered blocks in each puzzle. It's fun to play in early levels, but as the game increases in difficulty, the lack of instructional support will likely leave many kids frustrated and distracted from learning as they try to make sense of things. To find out about the information collected and shared, read the app's privacy policy.

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What's it about?

In THE UNKNOWN NUMBER: PUZZLE MATH ARCADE GAME, the puzzles are organized into two main themes: Forest and Mountain. Within each theme, there are 40 levels, each of which needs to be cleared in order to unlock the next one. Kids can earn up to three stars per level depending on how many numbered blocks they eliminate. Physically creating the equations is easy --  just tap or swipe the numbered blocks in order -- but clearing the board can be tricky. For example, in early rounds, kids use three numbered blocks to create addition equations like 2 + 1 = 3. In later rounds, they use several numbered blocks to create equivalent equations with more than one operation like 11 + 4 = 3 x 5, and the arrangement of the blocks gets more complicated as well. A stats screen allows kids to view progress including number of stars earned, puzzles completed, successful equations, and longest equation.

Is it any good?

Kids will have fun completing the puzzles, but they won't get much instructional guidance, so concrete learning could take a back seat. For example, it might be hard for kids to progress from simple addition equations to more complex, multi-operational equations with negative numbers. Also, the logistics of the game change slightly with each level; reminding players of the basic strategy through a help button might ease possible frustration.The game could be greatly improved by adding some detailed instructional screens before each new level and hints that are accessible while kids play.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how math equations are used in every-day situations. Ask kids to give examples of when they might use equations.

  • Encourage kids to solve math problems in multiple ways to encourage flexible thinking.

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
  • Subjects: Math: addition, arithmetic, equations, multiplication, subtraction
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: logic, part-whole relationships, solving puzzles, strategy
  • Price: $2.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Release date: October 6, 2015
  • Category: Education
  • Size: 57.00 MB
  • Publisher: Keith Patterson
  • Version: 1.1
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 6.0 or later

For kids who love math games

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