It's now year 3, and Successfully Learning Mathematics to offer more maths-related madness with Freddy the Vampire. Previous games saw a competent mix of maths puzzles for the younger generation, with some bonus games thrown in. Year 3, for better or for worse, changes little in updating the series.
Freddy the Vampire, an avatar with what will be an insanely irritating voice to anybody above the age of 10, directs you through proceedings. A simple left-and-right menu gives you access to what the game has to offer, against a background of squared paper. The range of mathematical minigames is a little more varied than last time's simple mix of addition and subtraction games, as our Successfully Learning Mathematics Year 2 review explains.
Three games in total return, identical apart from an increase in difficulty. Addition and Subtraction, Money Problems, Mental Arithmetic and Geometry are the familiar ones, with the latter being a fun highlight last time around. This time, it's been tweaked to be more complex, providing a great aside to the main game.
In terms of the maths, the game still mainly revolves around addition and subtraction. Most of the games — for instance, new game Tens and Ones — are variations on this theme. The aforementioned game involves lines, representing tens, and dots, which, by the process of elimination, represent ones; these are jumbled about in a picture, and you count them up. Simple.
The fact that multiplication and division are here and reasonably well explained is a bonus. They, too, involve picture representations in order to help those wondering; it's a good introduction. The problem is that there aren't enough variants on this theme.
The 'brain-teasers' are number squares that require you to fill in the blanks so all lines add up to a certain number. It's a fun variation on the theme, and will keep the game going, as will the returning achievements system. The games will get more difficult as you unlock medals, with better medals for fewer wrong answers.
The bonus games also return, however what was once a highlight is now the game's stumbling block. Whereas the geometry themed games in Year 2 struck a good balance between the fun and the educational, this isn't the case here. Tivola have tried to make the games — which come as rewards for medals — more complex, but they end up poor and very fiddly. You are charged with helping Fred clear his attic — meaning push crates into specific spaces around a maze-like level. While this obviously requires logical thinking (nothing in the way of maths), it's repetitive and won't be a great reward for the completed sums. It looks poor — forgivably so, given what it is — but the controls are worse. Fred moves to a point dictated by a push of A on a specific spot. The crates are moved by shaking the Remote. While the help doesn't say so, it's possible to move the crates in the same way as moving Fred, but either way, it's fiddly and poor.
Not only does this repeat Year 2 constantly, it sometimes ends up coming off worse. There's not much variety here, and few games stand out. The introduction of division and multiplication, while well explained in an improved help system, isn't enough considering there's just two basic games. What this has on its predecessor is increased difficulty, and the aforementioned two games. Apart from that, the bonus games — surely the immediate port of call for any child having completed the sums — are rubbish. Get the prequel. If you already have it, don't bother with this.