Among the Atari 2600’s vast and vastly inconsistent library of games are a couple that qualify as quiz games. And yes, they are both math quiz games. We’re not going to see anything so astoundingly complex as words just yet.
Basic Math (1977)
This launch title for the 2600 (when it was still known as the Atari VCS) predates the “Math Quiz” games on the Channel F by a few months.
It’s nicer to look at and a hell of a lot easier and more intuitive to control. Under the hood though, it’s pretty much exactly the same as those two games.
To begin, press Reset. You’ll see this screen, and you can actually enter a number up top there. More about that below. Press Select to cycle through addition…
When you’re ready to start, press Reset again. The line below the equation blinks slowly like a cursor, and the joystick controls what will appear there.
Up and down cycle through the digits from 0 to 9.
Left and right change places.
Come on, Channel F, this is how it should have been done. And for the record, I answered this one without the aid of a calculator.
Getting the question right will get you a jaunty little tune played, and you will advance to a new question. If you get the question wrong, the game will replace your answer with the correct one, and play the exact same tune before advancing to the next question.
To change game modes, press Reset again. Press Select to cycle through the four available types, and Reset to start that mode.
As you can see, the game changes text and background colours with each new mode, and sometimes these don’t really match up well contrast-wise.
Here’s an interesting one. I was wondering how it would handle a decimal answer.
It doesn’t. It accepts integers and remainders for answers.
Now back to the way the game starts off. You can choose a single integer for the numerator here, and when you press the button, the game will randomize the denominator. That way, you can customize this question, but after that, the game plays out normally like above. You can also use Select to change modes, and customize the numerator of subtraction, multiplication, and division questions this way. Only the first question of each round will be like this though.
Like I said in the previous review, there’s not much replay value in this unless you really like math quizzes. But if you do, this one is very well made and very easy to control.
Math Gran Prix 1982
Would you believe that this game was very briefly a contender for my Video Carnage reviews?
This is the same kind of game as these math quiz games, only with a graphical and gameplay twist. You play the role of a race car driver, and every math question you get right advances you on the track.
You’re racing against the blue car, and before you answer the actual question, you must choose whether it will advance you 2 or 3 spaces. Joystick left + button answer 2, right + button answers 3. Most of the time you will want to advance 3 spaces, but there are certain spots on the track that you will want to end up on, like those “x” spots. Those give you a free turn, so if you’re two spaces away, choose 2.
When you get the math question, you answer it in the same way as in “Basic Math”. Joystick up+down to change digits, left+right to change places, and the button to enter.
Your rival will advance with you.
You must try to keep ahead of him, and this means not getting any questions wrong.
All of the questions here are trivially easy, and appear to be only addition and subtraction.
There are some constrictions in the road, and the two cars on the track can crash into each other.
This can make the game either challenging or frustrating, depending on how you want to look at it.
When you get to the home stretch you need to keep in mind that you can only advance in 2 or 3 step moves.
And you can still lose like I did if you answer all the questions right, get all the free turns, and just keep getting crashed into by your opponent.
This was actually the first time I played a round of this game to completion. It will be the last. There are quiz games that incorporate elements of action into the gameplay to spice things up a bit, and they pull it off much better than “Math Gran Prix” did. I can’t for the life of me figure out why this game exists.