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**Bottom Line**: A game for fast math calculations using all four operators. Useful for reinforcing known facts, but not a terribly interesting interface despite efforts to tie into Potterworld. For older children who enjoy a challenge.
Free version available to try it out.

If you would like to purchase Mathly Hollows ($1.99 iPad/iPhone) or try the Free Lite version, please use one of the following links:

Mathly Hollows from developer 8D World Inc., makers of Brain Bot Jr., is a maths game where the player answers equations to progress forward in the game, gaining levels and rewards. It's aimed at improving fast mental math calculation which is exactly what it offers.

The game has an old school RPG (role playing game) video game feel - the monsters progress up a windy path towards the wizard waiting at the end. Essentially, the player needs to answer a certain number of maths equations before too many monsters get to the other end and overwhelm the poor wizard. As players progress through the levels, they receive more 'helpers' and little monsters to add to their reward page.

At first glance, the concept of this game is very simple, but there is a lot actually involved in it if kids want to really enter into all the role playing game aspects that are offered. There is a little text story that introduces the very simple objective - Mathly Hollows is being invaded by monsters from Monster Hollow and the only way to save the village is by using mathematical spells to drive them off. There are Harry Potter references in the context in this game - 'Math'ly Hollows, wizards and magic spells - which can't be accidental.

There are many levels to choose from - 2 each for Kindergarten up to Third grade - and each one is customizable. Future Isaac Newtons may choose from Add, Subtract, Multiply and Division or a combination of all for whichever level they wish to work on. The content is linked to the Common Core Standards in Math and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Standards. It covers addition and subtraction from 1-20 for Kindergarten up to 1-100 for Third Grade and the Multiplication and Division questions go all the way up to the 12 times table. Even though the addition and subtraction questions in the Kindergarten level only add up to/subtract from 1-20, there were much higher numbers available to choose from in the answers. It would be much more useful to limit these numbers to ones that are more familiar to each age level and better decoy answers.

There's an awfully large range covered within each Grade and that must be why there are so many levels in each stage, but I found that, even though each level progresses incrementally in difficulty, it was a chore to get through them. Each level repeats the same type of question many times before you complete it, and I found the number of questions in each level to be too many. It, quite simply, got boring quickly.

The interface is not overly interesting either. Even though there are quite a few little things to do - set up your 'helpers' before you start each level, visit your monster reward page and feed them - there's very little interactivity and there are no verbals, all the instructions and interactions are text-based. This doesn't instill much in the way of interest and engagement. There's a magic book which gives your little number cruncher a description of each 'helper' (you have several that you can line up along the path to slow the progress of the monster and each has different skills/attributes). This is the sort of thing that you normally find in RPG and even though it's a nice little detail, I don't know how many kids will actually find this enthralling enough to stick with the game for long.

As this is a fast mental maths game, all kids get are the equations so this app will be of little use unless the player has a fairly firm grasp on the maths facts already. There's no ability to learn from mistakes as users get two chances at choosing the right answer. If still wrong, the right number flashes quickly in green and the game moves on to the next question.

Under the Options icon you can turn on and off both the music and/or the game sound, and there is also a small tutorial on how to play which I highly recommend you or your child take a good look at before starting. Kids can also vary the monster speed if they are finding the pace too challenging/not challenging enough. There is a For Parents section at the top of the homepage which gives a brief description of the aim of the game and a progress report. This report is not really very helpful as it is very vague and doesn't offer any actual specific information on how the player is progressing.

Even though the levels range from kindergarten to grade 3, I really don't think this is going to be interesting to younger children. It's just not interactive and engaging enough and the Harry Potter universe is aimed at kids that probably have a decent grasp on maths. If you have an older child who likes this sort of game you just might be onto a winner but they're likely to be put off if they think they are working at younger kids' levels. I've got to say though, that maths practice is valuable for all ages and I found the grade 2 and 3 levels really quite challenging. But I'm getting old and am desperately out of practice.

*****
Eleanor Holland uses maths everyday - the washing pile multiplies, the children divide and conquer, my patience is tested and added to each day, and my brain power seems to have diminished relative to each new child in the family. **smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.*

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