Bottom Line: Pirates, cannons, and sinking ships are a cute way to practice multiplication and division, but customization is a bit confusing and limited.
2x2=4 is an app by Aplemakh Bros designed to add a bit of pirate-based fun to learning multiplication tables. There is a free light version (linked below) to test the app before you buy.
The animation, interface, and game play aren't fancy—in fact, choosing the settings is the most complicated part of this app! But there is some fun to be had here, matey.
When the game starts, the players’s ship is on the left, and the marauding pirate is on the right. Each ship has a cannon, with a red bar above increasing and decreasing based on the speed and accuracy of the answers. When the child gets an answer right, the red in the cannon over their ship goes up. If the child gets a problem wrong, or takes too long to solve a problem, the red above the pirate ship increases.
Each ship has a certain amount of lives, depicted by little hearts, depending on the number of problems to be solved. When the cannon is completely red, a cannon ball is fired and the other ship loses a heart. If a ship runs out of hearts, it sinks and the game is over.
At the end, a screen pops up listing the elapsed time of the game, the number of helps needed, and what happened to the pirate—if the pirate won, the pirate flag is shown; if the user won, then the pirate emblem is behind bars.
Before the game begins, the user can choose between multiplication or division (represented by the signs), a number pad to enter the correct answer or multiple choice answers (number pad lists all numbers 0-9, multiple choice is selected by four circles with different answers on them), three levels of speed (one small star, two small stars, and one big star, in increasing difficulty), and the highest number to quiz (a slider bar from 2-12). There are no instructions, so it took me some time to figure out exactly how to control what I wanted of the available options.
Once starting the game, the sound can be muted in the upper right corner, and there are multiple buttons along a bottom toolbar to pause the game, see the answer for a problem (without cannon penalty), stop the game, restart the game, and in the number pad option, erase the last number entered.
There is also a history feature on the main page. All games played are listed there with operation used, difficulty, level, number pad or multiple choice, the problems practiced, elapsed time, and number of helps used. This history is a nice touch for a parent, to see what their child has completed. It’s not as useful for a teacher, unless all play is supervised, since there is no way to track a particular game to a particular student.
In addition to play mode there is also an option to learn the tables on the home screen. It’s not interactive learning, however; it's just the times tables in list form.
The first issue I have with the app is that it's too difficult to win. If your child takes more than a second or two to answer each problem, the pirate will win every time even on the easiest setting. That's going to be very discouraging for someone just learning their times tables.
My 10 year old son knows all of his multiplication facts, so I set slider up to 12, on the fastest level, entering each number. He only made one mistake and answered very quickly, but was still too slow to defeat the pirate. I played it as well and had a lot of trouble beating the pirate on that level of difficulty.
With all of the options for customization, it surprised me that some areas that I really wanted to customize couldn’t be changed. What I really wanted to change was the number of problems presented. In order to complete the full "12" level, he had to do 144 problems! I find it highly unlikely that he or any other child will choose that level again on his own and practice 144 multiplication problems at a time. If a child can do that in a reasonable amount time, they're not going to have much use for this app.
There is a setting on the main menu page that allows a parent/educator to restrict the highest number the second multiplier can be and that lessens the number of questions, but it also restricts the tables that can be practiced.
Additionally, the third graders in my school learn 2s, 5s, and 10s before anything else. This app could be set to work on just 2s, but it’s not possible to work on just 5s. In order to select 5s, you also have to work on 2s, 3s, and 4s. In order to work on 10s, you have to work on everything else up to 10.
Still, my second grader enjoyed the app. He could do the 2s and 5s, but is still learning 3s and 4s. What he did, though, was pause the game to think about it so he felt little pressure to rush. It was a nice mix of fun and practice for him, without overwhelming him with the need for speed. A setting to turn the timer off completely would obviously help.
The price on this app is $2.99, which is a tad high for an app of this kind, but the light version allows parents and educators to try it out (up to 4s) for free. Be sure to review the settings first to help reduce frustration in customization.
If you would like to purchase 2x2=4 please use the links provided. The cost is the same, but Smart Apps receives a small percentage. Thanks for your support!
Heather Hetler will win no seamanship awards anytime soon as the pirate sunk her ship quite often. Heather works as an elementary school SLP and is a full-time graduate student in Speech-Language Pathology. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.