Bottom line: Challenging and fun for both children and adults, this Tetris-like falling block game will test and build you and your child's rapid math skills. Do not play late at night as you will suddenly find it is morning and that you haven't slept a wink.
If you are interested in purchasing the fully configurable AWEsum Plus ($1.99 iPad/iPhone) or the original game AWEsum ($.99 iPad/iPhone), please download using these links which support Smart Apps for Kids:
I'm a little worried about the sheer number of vices that I am revealing here on Smart Apps for Kids - cheese wheels, Sims games, find the object games. And don't forget bacon. Mmm bacon. And AWEsum Plus fills another one of these obsessions. Having whiled away many hours in my youth (and not so youth) on Tetris, this falling-blocks game had me at 'hello'. But I can feel a little better that my hours are not being wasted as I found that my quick math skills really could use the work. So it's all okay.
AWEsum Plus from developer NOMAD Apps is a casual game that you can pick up and play for a few minutes at a time, or for hours into the night until your eyes get bleary. Not that I've done that. More than twice. All right, maybe three times. The gameplay will be very familiar if you've ever experienced Tetris - there are falling blocks which need to be guided into the correct position. But instead of slotting them into shapes, in AWEsum Plus the player needs to guide and place the falling number cubes onto the number cubes below so that the digits on each cube add up to (or equal) the displayed goal number. The paired cubes then disappear and the player needs to prevent the buildup of cubes from reaching the top of the board and ending the game. It sounds simple and like all good addictive game, the concept certainly is simple, but as the player levels up, the blocks fall faster (of course) and, just to mix it up a bit, the goal number changes regularly. Like all good games of this type, there are power-up type actions - special cubes which can explode certain blocks, match the block colours for bonus points - to help make gameplay more exciting and to add a bit of strategy into the mix.
When you first start your game there is a written tutorial that guides you through the basics of the game. Even though this game is great for all ages, an adult will need to sit with younger players on their first time through to read the instructions. But trust me, children are bright little things and they'll be playing this on their own in next to no time. Possible 'AWEsums' (goal numbers) range from 4-14 and let me tell you, when it started to get into double digits I discovered that my quick math was pretty crummy. Trying to quickly think of what two numbers add up to what when the blocks are coming down fast tested my brain. But read on, this is where this game rises above the par as an excellent learning/reinforcing tool rather than just a casual game .....
..... the Plus version of AWEsum (there is also just AWEsum available in the app store) is almost entirely customisable. For younger children, go into the options and choose just single digit numbers. Are the increasing speeds proving to be a little too frustrating? Then change them. If you'd like to focus on just one particular number, then choose that one and turn all the others off. There are heaps of areas that can be customised, so make sure you check out the options and tailor the game to the player's individual needs. Keep his/ her frustration levels down and your little mathematician will keep coming back to this game and enhancing rapid math skills without realising it.
The graphics and music are very reminiscent of old-school arcade gaming, but it works well for this style of app. The colours are vivid and bold though, which really adds to the appeal. When I first started playing, I was looking for the numbers to add up both horizontally AND vertically but they only need to add up vertically. My first thought was that to have them add up both ways would be an excellent added challenge but the developers had already tried this out in testing and discovered that it created way too many 'accidental' sums, so much so that the challenge of the game was eliminated. Therefore, they are working on an update that will feature a new Special Cube which allows the player to disappear cubes by adding up in a totally different way. Keep an eye out for it, it'll add another dimension to the gameplay.
There is a skills assessment page that tracks player progress on each of the sums for parents interested in monitoring their childrens' app use. And lastly and very importantly, the developers remembered to include a pause button for when you're rudely interrupted by your children during important gameplay and you simply can't concentrate and the block wall is building higher and higher and oh......darn. Oh well, start again.
Eleanor Holland needs to get more sleep. But her math skills are improving and she now knows, quick as a wink, that 7+6, 9+4, and 8+5 all add up to 13. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.